By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

ROGER EBERT RECEIVES “GOLDEN CIUPAGA” AWARD FROM THE POLISH FILM FESTIVAL IN AMERICA

Roger Ebert, one of the most respected and widely-read film critics in the world, is the recipient of the 2010 Golden Ciupaga Award, for his contribution in promoting European cinema in the United States, including works by Polish filmmakers. This prestigious prize is being presented by the Polish Film Festival in America, which hosts the largest showcase of Polish cinema beyond Poland and is one of the most extensive annual programs of European film in North America.

Regarded as the most powerful and popular film critic in America today, Roger Ebert was born in Urbana, Illinois, in 1942. Ebert received his degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. He then attended the Universities of Cape Town and Chicago. He started working for the Chicago Sun-Times in September of 1966, and has been their film critic since 1967. Roger is best known for his film reviews in the Sun-Times and online through rogerebert.com, and for his television programs, “Sneak Previews,” “At the Movies” and “Siskel & Ebert and The Movies,” all of which he co-hosted for a combined 23 years with Gene Siskel of The Chicago Tribune. After Siskel’s death in 1999, Ebert teamed with Richard Roeper for “Ebert and Roeper & the Movies.” Although his name remained in the title, Ebert did not appear on the show after mid-2006, when he suffered surgical complications which left him unable to speak.

Ebert’s movie reviews are syndicated to more than 200 newspapers worldwide and his website attracts 100 million visits a year from around the globe. He has written more than 20 books, including his famous annual movie yearbook which is a collection of his reviews of the past year. In 1994 he published “Great Movies” which has since continued with “Great Movies II” and now “Great Movies III.” These books contain reviews of movies he deems important for people to see. He also recently published “Scorsese by Ebert.”

In 1975, Ebert became the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize. He has received honorary degrees from the University of Colorado, the AFI Conservatory and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2005, Ebert was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the first professional film critic to be so honored. In 2009, he was made an honorary life member of the Directors Guild of America. More recently, he was honored as the 2010 Webby Person of the Year, which is the leading international award honoring excellence on the internet.

In 1999, Ebert established the “Overlooked Film Festival” at his alma mater, the University of Illinois. Now called “Roger Ebert’s Film Festival” or “Ebertfest,” it just celebrated its 13th anniversary. The festival brings filmmakers from all over the world to Urbana-Champaign to share their films. Roger Ebert’s contribution to the appreciation of European film in America is unquestioned. While teaching at the University of Chicago Extension Courses, he regularly featured a semester dedicated to a particular director, including Krzysztof Kieslowski, Andrzej Wajda and was an early champion of Krzysztof Zanussi. Ebert considers “Decalogue” as one of the most important films in the history of cinema. From the 1999 Cannes Film Festival, he wrote that Jerzy Hoffman’s “With Fire and Sword,” shown at the Festival’s Marketplace, was one of the few interesting films shown there.

Ebert has described his critical approach of films as “relative, not absolute.” He reviews a film for what he feels will be its prospective audience, yet always with at least some consideration as to its value as a whole.

For many years, Roger Ebert has been supported by his wife Chaz, currently the Executive Producer of the upcoming “Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies,” which is set to air in January 2011, on public television stations nationwide. Ebert is an extraordinary example of a man whose passion for films has overcome even his serious health limitations.

The Polish Film Festival in American is proud to honor Roger Ebert with its “Golden Ciupaga Award” for his long-standing promotion of European films in America, and Polish films in particular.

Roger Ebert will receive the award in person at the Award Closing Night Ceremony on Saturday, November 20th, of the 22nd annual Polish Film Festival in America, at Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 (9180 Golf Rd., Niles). Following the presentation, he will be available to sign his new books, “Great Movies III,” and “Roger Ebert’s Movie Yearbook 2011.”

2 Responses to “ROGER EBERT RECEIVES “GOLDEN CIUPAGA” AWARD FROM THE POLISH FILM FESTIVAL IN AMERICA”

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DEADLINE: How does a visualist feel about people watching your films on a phone or VOD?
REFN: It depends on what kind of movie you make. We had great success with Only God Forgives on multiple platforms in the U.S. Young people will decide how they see it, when they want to see it. Don’t try to fight it. Embrace it. That’s a wonderful opportunity. We’re at the most exciting time since the invention of the wheel, in terms of creativity because distribution and accessibility have changed everything. A camera is still a camera whether it’s digital or not; there’s still sound; an actor is an actor. Ninety-nine percent of what you do is going to be seen on a smart phone – I know this is the greatest thing ever made because it allows people to choose, watching what you do on this format or go into a theater and see it on a screen. That means more people than ever will see what I do, which is personally satisfying in terms of vanity. But you have to be able to adapt, to accept things in different order and length than we’re used to. We are in a very, very exciting time.
~ Nic Refn to Jen Yamato

DEADLINE: You mention Tarantino, who with Christopher Nolan and a few other giants, saved film stock from extinction. To him, showing a digital film in a theater is the equivalent of watching TV in public. Make an argument for why digital is a good film making canvas.
REFN: Costwise, it’s a very effective way for young people to start making movies. You can make your movie on an iPhone. It’s wonderful seeing how my own children use technology to enhance creativity. For me it’s a wonderful canvas. Sure, I love grain in film. I love celluloid. But I also like creativity. I like crayons, I like pencils, I like paint. It’s all relative. Technology is more inclusive. A hundred years ago when film was invented, it was an elitist club. Very few people got to make it, very few people controlled it and very few people owned it. A hundred years later, storytelling through images is everyone’s domain. It’s ultimate capitalism. There are no rules, and no barriers and no Hays Code. Where does this go in another hundred years? I don’t know but I would love to see it.
~ Nic Refn To Jen Yamato