Cineasts lost an essential, compassionate and indelible critical voice with the passing of Roger Ebert, who died Thursday in Chicago at the age of 70 after a long battle with cancer.
But his legacy—an abiding, populist passion for film bereft of snobbery and pretense—remains as fervent as the fire he ignited in those moved by his plainspoken prose and commanding critical viewpoint: Organizers have announced that Ebertfest, the film festival he founded, would move forward this month as scheduled.
The event, which will be celebrating its 15th year, is slated to run from April 17–21 in Champaign, Ill.
"All of us at Ebertfest are very saddened by the news of our dear friend Roger's passing," read a statement posted on the fest's website.
"He was a remarkable man who influenced journalists and film lovers the world over. The 15th annual Roger Ebert's Film Festival will take place as scheduled April 17–21."
Under his watchful eye, Ebert envisioned the festival as an antithesis of sorts to the cabal of splashy film fests that typically lead up to awards season, prudently handpicking a tight lineup of films that he championed and that he believed had been inequitably overlooked.
Despite its intimate scale—or, perhaps, because of it, and due to the considerable pull of its founder—Ebertfest has been known to attract its share of stars.
Tilda Swinton, Shailene Woodley and Jack Black are all expected to attend this year's festival—a fitting tribute to a man who, ultimately, wanted nothing more than to share his unbridled love of movies.