Category: Word

Ebertfest announces The Fugitive as opening night film, initial slate for 2018

The 20th anniversary of Roger Ebert's Film Festival is coming up — April 18-22 at the Virginia Theatre — and the festival has announced the initial slate and opening night film.

The Fugitive starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, will be presented as the opening night film, joined by Director Andrew Davis.

Check out the full announcement below via their press release:


Roger Ebert’s Film Festival to take place April 18-22, 2018 in Champaign, IL 

CHAMPAIGN, ILL – March 9, 2018 — Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, co-founded and hosted by Chaz Ebert and also known as ‘Ebertfest”, announced today that THE FUGITIVE (d. Andrew Davis) will open the 20th anniversary celebration.  THE FUGITIVE celebrates its 25th anniversary of release having opened in theaters on August 6, 1993.  

“We like to start the festival with a bang and Andy Davis's award winning film THE FUGITIVE will do just that as our projectionist, James Bond, lights it on our huge screen at the beautiful movie palace, the Virginia Theater,” said co-founder Chaz Ebert.  “And that is just for starters. We are really going to celebrate Roger and cinema and the filmmakers and our guests and all that we have shared over these last twenty years. It will be glorious and joyful.” 

Additionally, Ebertfest announced that 13TH (d. Ava DuVernay), BELLE (d. Amma Asante) and DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST (d. Julie Dash) as the initial films in this year’s slate.  The remaining schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.

“What an honor to have these Three Queens of Cinema grace our festival," said Chaz Ebert. “Ava DuVernay first met Roger outside of the practice arena for the Academy Awards when she was 8 years old. She was accompanied by her aunt whose death later inspired Ava's poignant independent film, I WILL FOLLOW that Roger gave Thumbs Up. Now she is directing a 100 million dollar movie. But why I am especially thrilled to have her at our 20th anniversary is because of all of the good work she is doing in Hollywood to assure that women and people of color are having opportunities that were not available before. She didn't stop at her own success, she reached out and invited others to come along."

Special guests Director Andrew Davis (THE FUGITIVE) Director, Writer and Producer Ava DuVernay (13TH), Director Amma Asante (BELLE) and Director Julie Dash (DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST) will be in attendance and participate in Q&As following their screenings.

The 20th Anniversary of Ebertfest will be held April 18-22, 2018 at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign, IL with related talks and panel discussions to be held at the Hyatt Place in Champaign and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This year’s event will be dedicated to its namesake and co-founder, Roger Ebert, and to the festival’s cherished friend, Mary Frances Fagan. Dubbed Ebertfest’s “Guardian Angel” by Roger Ebert, Fagan worked for American Airlines and made essential travel for filmmakers possible through generous support over two decades.

Festival Passes are available for $150, plus processing. Festival-goers will receive a discount when they purchase a four-pack priced at $510 instead of $600, or 15 percent off. Additionally, a small number of U. of I. student passes will be made available priced at $100 each. All passes can be purchased or at the Virginia Theater box office, 203 W. Park Ave., Champaign, 217-356-9063.

Tickets for individual movies will be available April 2. Admission is $15 for adults and $13 for students and seniors.

Chaz Ebert is the festival co-founder and producer and Nate Kohn is the festival director. Major filmmakers, stars, historians, critics and film-lovers from all over the world come to experience this annual celebration that includes films from lists Roger drew up over the first 15 years of the festival, as well as others selected by Chaz Ebert and Festival Director Nate Kohn based on Roger’s established criteria for an Ebertfest film.


THE FUGITIVE (1993) – Opening Night Film

Directed by Andrew Davis, 130 mins

Special Guest Andrew Davis will be in attendance

Wrongfully accused of murdering his wife, Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) escapes from the law in an attempt to find her killer and clear his name. Pursuing him is a team of U.S. marshals led by Deputy Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones), a determined detective who will not rest until Richard is captured. As Richard leads the team through a series of intricate chases, he discovers the secrets behind his wife's death and struggles to expose the killer before it is too late. 

In his 4-star review, Roger Ebert called the film “one of the best entertainments of the year, a tense, taut and expert thriller that becomes something more than that, an allegory about an innocent man in a world prepared to crush him.”

13TH (2016)

Directed by Ava DuVernay, 100 Mins, DCP

Special Guest Ava DuVernay will be in attendance 

The title of Ava DuVernay's extraordinary and galvanizing documentary refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States." The progression from that second qualifying clause to the horrors of mass criminalization and the sprawling American prison industry is laid out by DuVernay with bracing lucidity. With a potent mixture of archival footage and testimony from a dazzling array of activists, politicians, historians, and formerly incarcerated women and men, DuVernay creates a work of grand historical synthesis.

In his 4 star review on, Odie Henderson wrote that 13TH is “an unflinching, well-informed and thoroughly researched look at the American system of incarceration, specifically how the prison industrial complex affects people of color.”

BELLE (2014)

Directed by Amma Asante, 102 Mins, DCP

Special Guest Amma Asante will be in attendance

BELLE is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode). Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle's lineage affords her certain privileges, yet her status prevents her from the traditions of noble social standing. While her cousin Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) chases suitors for marriage, Belle is left on the sidelines wondering if she will ever find love. After meeting an idealistic young vicar's son bent on changing society, he and Belle help shape Lord Mansfield's role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England.

“Amma Asante did something that no one ever thought possible, bringing a Jane Austen sensibility to historical issues of race in England in her film ‘Belle’,” said Chaz Ebert.  “I can't wait to welcome her to Ebertfest.” 


Directed by Julie Dash, 112 Mins

Special Guest Julie Dash will be in attendance

At the dawn of the 20th century, a family in the Gullah community of coastal South Carolina -- former West African slaves who adopted many of their ancestors' Yoruba traditions -- suffers a generational split. Young Haagar (Kaycee Moore) wants to move to the mainland away from tradition-bound matriarch Nana (Cora Lee Day). Former prostitute Yellow Mary (Barbara-O) gets a cold shoulder when she returns to the island with her female lover, especially from her sister Viola (Cheryl Lynn Bruce). 

Roger Ebert called the film “a tone poem of old memories, a family album in which all of the pictures are taken on the same day” in his 3 star review. He went on to say that “at certain moments we are not sure exactly what is being said or signified, but by the end we understand everything that happened -- not in an intellectual way, but in an emotional way.” 

For additional information, please visit


Roger Ebert's Film Festival (EBERTFEST) celebrates films, genres and formats that have been overlooked by distributors, audiences and/or critics. These include independent, international and studio films that did not win wide audiences; less seen formats such as 70mm; and genres such as documentaries and musical. The festival screens one film at a time, so everyone sees the same films at the same time, promoting a strong sense of community among audience members, filmmakers, guests, students and scholars.

Top image from


McKinley Foundation announced their 2018 Social Justice Award winners

Each year, the McKinley Foundation recognizes individuals and organizations that engage in social justice work in the community. Here are this year's honorees:

  • Kathleen Hu, a U of I engineering student who started an organization called Dibbs, using technology to connect grocery stores’ surplus food for donations to local food agencies;
  • YouMatter Studios, a company founded by students to develop video games that celebrate diversity and inclusivity;
  • Danielle Chynoweth who, for 23 years, has been an institution builder for social and racial justice in the C-U community; and
  • Faith in Place, a nonprofit organization that brings together social and environmental justice working with houses of faith across the state.

We wrote about Kathleen Hu and Dibbs last August. 


Riggs hosting a seed starting workshop with Delight Flower Farm

Riggs Beer Company is hosting a seed starting workshop with Delight Flower Farm from 12:30 to 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 8th. 

For $20 (registration required), you'll 

learn the basics for successful flower seed starting. We will provide the supplies for you to start your own home cut flower garden. Each participant will take away potted seeds, and more Delight Flower Farm seeds to start at home.

Sadly, beer is not included, though it will obviously be available for purchase. 

Photo from Facebook

Link / Word

By the way, you can vote right now

Yeah, right now. Both vote-by-mail and early in-person voting for the March 20 primaries are available now through March 20. Early voting information is available on the county clerk's website.

If you're not up to speed on all of the contested elections, the Champaign County Voters Alliance has put together a pretty handy guide detailing the candidates and their positions and also has links to assist you with verifying and updating your voter registration.


Medical marijuana referral clinic slated to open in Savoy this April

As per the Gazoo, there's a medical marijuana referral clinic opening in April in Savoy. Medical Cannabis Outreach will be located at 1801 Woodfield Drive, and serve as a place where a physician will be able to determine whether or not you're qualified for a medical card.

Right now, there are a couple of dispensaries that exist in C-U: NuMed in Urbana, and Phoenix Botanicals in Champaign. In order to access those dispensaries, you have to have a medical marijuana card, so essentially, this referral clinic is a path to acquiring a card to be able to buy legal weed in Champaign-Urbana.


The City of Urbana is looking to add residential development to downtown

The City of Urbana is requesting proposals from developers for city-owned property at 200 S. Vine Street, specifically for residential development. Here is the press release:

City of Urbana Requests Development Proposals for 200 South Vine Block

The City of Urbana has issued a Request for Proposals seeking a developer for 1.75 acres of city-owned property in Downtown Urbana at 200 South Vine Street. Proposals by interested developers are due on Monday, April 16th.

Mayor Diane Marlin said that the site represents an excellent opportunity to bring more residents within walking distance of the heart of Downtown Urbana, which blends family-friendly livability with creative new energy.

“Our Downtown is exceptionally livable. We have grocery stores, restaurants, and coffee shops within a few blocks’ walk.   There are also essential services such as clothing and shoe stores, pharmacies, salons and barber shops,” Marlin said. “The 200 South Vine site is an easy walk to the University of Illinois campus, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and Carle Foundation Hospital and one block from a mass transit hub.   It’s a great place for a new project that will complement our thriving community.”

The City of Urbana is actively seeking a developer to acquire and develop the site into a medium- to high-density residential development. This development could consist of residential mixed-use, multi-story residential, or high-density townhome development. Located in Downtown Urbana adjacent to the Historic East Urbana Neighborhood, the site is conveniently located near the University of Illinois and Carle Foundation Hospital.

Urbana presents an outstanding opportunity for new development in a Big Ten university city.  The Downtown is continuously changing and developing, with recent projects including a new brewery, food hall, children’s play museum and cafe, and three co-working spaces. Urbana’s Market at the Square, located across the street from the site, is the largest Farmers Market in downstate Illinois. A beloved Saturday morning tradition, an average of 4,800 patrons attend each Market in season from May through October.

For more information and to review the formal RFP please visit the City’s website at


Champaign Surplus announces new locations, changing name to Champaign Outdoors

After January's announcement that Champaign Surplus would be moving from their longtime Downtown Champaign location (and announcing a massive clearance sale), they have now revealed their plans for the future.

Champaign Surplus will become Champaign Outdoors, and they will have not one, a few iterations of their store. You can read all of that information via the press release. The location will be at 2017 South Neil Street in Champaign, and that image is below as per their Facebook page:

From the press release:

March 8, 2018
Champaign Surplus Announces New Locations, Changes Name to Champaign Outdoors

CHAMPAIGN, IL — Champaign Surplus, Champaign-Urbana’s largest locally owned and operated specialty outdoor retailer, announced today that they are changing their name to Champaign Outdoors, and moving their brick-and-mortar and internet operations into three new locations.

Two brick-and-mortar concepts, Champaign Outdoors and Rugged Outdoors, will open in side by side spaces at 2017 South Neil Street in the Carriage Center, Champaign.  

Champaign Outdoors will carry forward the best of Champaign Surplus, while its innovative design will utilize personalization and technology to bring a fresh viewpoint, reflecting the evolving way customers are choosing to shop. The new location will feature camping and travel gear, apparel, footwear and accessories from premier outdoor brands.

Next door will be Rugged Outdoors, the first brick-and-mortar store supporting the company’s nationally prominent website — — and companion eCommerce businesses. The Rugged Outdoors store will feature an ever-changing variety of deals on top outdoor brands and an assortment of basic outdoor products.

In addition to the two new physical stores, the company’s corporate headquarters and internet operations will be moving into a new, state-of-the-art facility at the Titan Warehouses, 101 E. Mercury Drive, Champaign. The 20,000 square foot location will be configured to handle a high volume of internet business and product inflow, as well as new finance, customer service and internet-related jobs.

“Brick-and-mortar retail these days is all about the experience,” said Shira Epstein, company co-owner. “We’ve got some exciting plans and ideas on ways to build on our current strengths and what customers love about our store, while making the shopping experience even more unique. It will be a fresh and modern build out, but still true to our heritage, friendly outdoor culture and product mix. We’ll use technology to help us better assist each customer, whether they are preparing for a big adventure or just needing a quality warm coat to walk across campus.”

The company is updating its store name to Champaign Outdoors to more accurately reflect its current selection and expertise in products designed for the outdoors and outdoor-aspirational living. Champaign Surplus consistently offered surplus and military-style merchandise since opening its doors shortly after WWII. However, sourcing surplus has become increasingly difficult over the past decade.

“We love our heritage as a surplus store and are nostalgic about leaving it behind. It was a great part of our business for decades. But, we are simply not able to find quality surplus product to stock our shelves anymore,” said Dan Epstein, company co-owner. “The change in our name to Champaign Outdoors not only reflects our current product selection, but also our personal passions for camping, hiking, kayaking and getting people outside enjoying nature.”

The company expects to occupy all three new facilities near the end of May.


Triptych Brewing and Dragon Fire are a Thirsty Thursday team

Each Thursday night Dragon Fire Pizza parks at Triptych Brewing, offering some of the best Thirsty Thursday and pizza and beer combos in town.

In addition to whatever Triptych has on tap, the brewery also has a special — a beer run through a Randall, a contraption that allows for beer to be infused with other ingredients. Tonight Triptych will run the L33t Wheat through lime zest. Plus, they are releasing a new beer, too.

Dragon Fire will be on hand from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

Top photo by Jessica Hammie.

There are three former Illini athletes headed to the Paralympics

The 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympics begin tomorrow, and there will be three athletes from the University of Illinois competing in the games.

Aaron Pike is a cross country skier and biathele, who also competed with the University of Illinois Wheelchair Basketball Team and raced with the track and field team.

Travis Dodson is another former UIUC track athlete, has competed in wheelchair marathons and half-marathons, and he's competing in sledge hockey for the second time.

Wataru Horie played for the UIUC Wheelchair Basketball team and is competing in sledge hockey for Japan.

Graphic from the Illinois Wheelchair Baskeball Team Facebook page.


Native Pop art events are happening later this month

Native Pop promotes Native pop art and art making, and three Native artists will be participating in a panel discussion, live demos, and reception around the collective theme "Native Pop presents: Strong Women: Reclaiming Imagery". The events are sponsored by Spurlock Museum, University YMCA, Native American House, and the Women's Resource Center and will take place March 30th. Here are the specifics:

TALK: University YMCA: Panel conversation with MaryBeth Nelson (Cherokee), Serena Penaloza (Navajo and Maricopa), and Brent Learned (Cheyenne-Arapaho)

University YMCA

March 30th

12 p.m.

Live Art Demos and Reception

Spurlock Museum

March 30th

7 p.m.