Ebert Going to Film Festival Despite His Changed Appearance

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By: E&P Staff

Roger Ebert, in a piece published in today’s Chicago Sun-Times, wrote that he’ll attend his “Overlooked Film Festival” starting tomorrow night despite not being able to speak yet and looking very different than people remember him.

“I have received a lot of advice that I should not attend the festival,” said the movie critic, who’s still recovering from a series of surgeries. “I’m told that paparazzi will take unflattering pictures, people will be unkind, etc. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. As a journalist I can take it as well as dish it out.”

The Sun-Times/Universal Press Syndicate columnist went on to describe his appearance: “To paraphrase a line from ‘Raging Bull,’ I ain’t a pretty boy no more. (Not that I ever was. The original appeal of ‘Siskel & Ebert’ was that we didn’t look like we belonged on TV.) What happened was, cancer of the salivary gland spread to my right lower jaw. A segment of the mandible was removed. Two operations to replace the missing segment were unsuccessful, both leading to unanticipated bleeding.

“A tracheostomy was necessary so, for the time being, I cannot speak. I make do with written notes and a lot of hand waving and eye-rolling. The doctors now plan an approach that does not involve the risk of unplanned bleeding. If all goes well, my speech will be restored.

“So when I turn up in Urbana, I will be wearing a gauze bandage around my neck, and my mouth will be seen to droop. So it goes.”

Ebert’s full piece can be read here.

The film festival takes place at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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