On Friday, September 27th, you are invited to attend the second Chaz & Roger Ebert Symposium at the Illinois Ballroom of the I-Hotel and Conference Center, 1900 S. First St., in Champaign, Illinois. This year’s topic grew out of Roger’s vision of movies as a tool for generating empathy among those of different genders, races, ages, classes or other circumstances. Fostering empathy “is the most noble thing that good movies can do,” he said. This event is a collaboration between Chaz Ebert, the College of Media and Ebertfest.
The symposium, titled “Creating an Inclusive Media and Cinema Ecosystem,” opens at 9 a.m. and has various panels scheduled throughout the day. The keynote speaker will be Stacy L. Smith, founder and director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California. The global think tank made Professor Smith, according to LA Weekly, the most influential person in Los Angeles in 2015 and The Hollywood Reporter named her one of 50 Agents of Change in 2019. She discussed her research on women and girls in film in a 2016 TED Talk.
Filmmaker Gregory Nava has also been added to the line-up in a special panel on National Hispanic Heritage Month, moderated by Chaz Ebert and her fellow co-host/organizer, Nate Kohn. Nava first became well known as a filmmaker with “El Norte,” released in the U.S. in 1984, which follows the trek of a brother and sister fleeing Guatemala for the U.S. and a new life as undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles. Roger would later describe it as a “’Grapes of Wrath’ for our time.”
The screenplay by Nava and co-writer Anna Thomas was nominated for both an Oscar and a Writer’s Guild of America Award. His “American Family” series for PBS was nominated for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe. Among other honors, Nava has received the Hispanic Heritage Award for the Arts and Lifetime Achievement awards from both the National Council of La Raza and the Imagen Foundation. “El Norte” and “Selena” have both been screened at Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, otherwise known as “Ebertfest,” held each April at Champaign’s Virginia Theatre.
Though the symposium is free and open to the public, online registration is highly encouraged to reserve a spot for selected panel discussions. You can find the full agenda below…
Schedule of events
9:00 am: WELCOME (Chaz Ebert, Vice Chancellor Sean Garrick, Dean Tracy Sulkin)
9:15 am: Keynote Speaker Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at USC
9:30 am: DIVERSITY IN FILM (Moderator: Professor Julie Turnock)
Allyson Nadia Field, Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago
Cáel M. Keegan, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies at Grand Valley State University
Gordon Quinn—Artistic Director and founding member of Kartemquin Films
Samantha N. Sheppard, Department of Performing and Media Arts at Cornell University
11:30am: Diversity in Journalism (Moderator: Professor Brian K. Johnson)
Abrar Al-Heeti, CNET
Janice Collins, Journalism, University of Illinois
Ben Holden, Journalism, University of Illinois
1:00pm: Lunchtime and VR Demonstration
VR Headset demonstration will be held in atrium of the I-Hotel’s Conference Space
2:00pm: Diversity in Advertising & Communication (Moderator: Professor Jason Chambers)
Shazzia Khan, Global Chief of Staff and Chief Talent Officer, Havas Health and You
Adrianne Smith, Founder of the “Cannes Can: Diversity Collective” and formerly of Leo Burnett, Advertising Agency in Chicago
Ericka Riggs, Foundation and Inclusion Manager, Advertising Club of New York
Lincoln Stephens, Founder of the Marcus Graham Project
3:30pm: National Hispanic Heritage Month
Gregory Nava, Oscar-nominated filmmaker of “El Norte” and “Selena”
Laura Rodríguez, journalist/producer for HOY, Chicago Tribune’s Spanish-language newspaper
Moderated by Chaz Ebert & Nate Kohn
Chaz Ebert, Co-Founder Ebertfest, Rogerebert.com
Nate Kohn, Roger Ebert Film Festival, Peabody Awards
To find biographies of the Ebert Symposium’s distinguished guests, click here.