By Ray Pride


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, 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.”


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“Roger Ebert claimed that the re-editing of The Brown Bunny after Cannes allowed him a difference of opinion so vast that he first called it the worst film in history and eventually gave it a thumbs up. This is both far fetched and an outright lie. The truth is, unlike the many claims that the unfinished film that showed at Cannes was 24 minutes shorter than the finished film, it was only 8 minutes shorter. The running time I filled out on the Cannes submission form was arbitrary. The running time I chose was just a number I liked. I had no idea where in the process I would actually be when I needed to stop cutting to meet the screening deadline. So whatever running time was printed in the program, I promise you, was not the actual running time. And the cuts I made to finish the film after Cannes were not many. I shortened the opening race scene once I was able to do so digitally. After rewatching the last 4 minutes of the film over and over again, somewhere within those 4 minutes, I froze the picture and just ended the film there, cutting out everything after that point, which was about 3 minutes. Originally in the salt flats scene, the motorcycle returned from the white. I removed the return portion of that shot, which seemed too literal. And I cut a scene of me putting on a sweater. That’s pretty much it. Plus the usual frame here, frame there, final tweaks. If you didn’t like the unfinished film at Cannes, you didn’t like the finished film, and vice versa. Roger Ebert made up his story and his premise because after calling my film literally the worst film ever made, he eventually realized it was not in his best interest to be stuck with that mantra. Stuck with a brutal, dismissive review of a film that other, more serious critics eventually felt differently about. He also took attention away from what he actually did at the press screening. It is outrageous that a single critic disrupted a press screening for a film chosen in main competition at such a high profile festival and even more outrageous that Ebert was ever allowed into another screening at Cannes. His ranting, moaning and eventual loud singing happened within the first 20 minutes, completely disrupting and manipulating the press screening of my film. Afterwards, at the first public screening, booing, laughing and hissing started during the open credits, even before the first scene of the film. The public, who had heard and read rumors about the Ebert incident and about me personally, heckled from frame one and never stopped. To make things weirder, I got a record-setting standing ovation from the supporters of the film who were trying to show up the distractors who had been disrupting the film. It was not the cut nor the film itself that drew blood. It was something suspicious about me. Something offensive to certain ideologues.”
~ Vincent Gallo

“I think [technology has[ its made my life faster, it’s made the ability to succeed easier. But has that made my life better? Is it better now than it was in the eighties or seventies? I don’t think we are happier. Maybe because I’m 55, I really am asking these questions… I really want to do meaningful things! This is also the time that I really want to focus on directing. I think that I will act less and less. I’ve been doing it for 52 years. It’s a long time to do one thing and I feel like there are a lot of stories that I got out of my system that I don’t need to tell anymore. I don’t need to ever do The Accused again! That is never going to happen again! You hit these milestones as an actor, and then you say, ‘Now what? Now what do I have to say?'”
~ Jodie Foster