Roger Ebert 1942-2013 Photo: RogerEbert.comRoger Ebert lost his battle with cancer today. He will be greatly missed. Most famous for his film criticism, he was the first movie critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.
Since 1967, and up to just two days ago he wrote a column for the Chicago Sun-Times.
He authored twenty books, and co-hosted several long-running syndicated television shows including Siskel and Ebert at the Movies.
I will remember Roger Ebert not only for his reviews and commentary, but also for his advocacy of Asian American cinema.
I thank Roger Ebert for his outspoken support and standing up (literally) for a film called Better Luck Tomorrow.
When Ebert stood on his theater seat and yelled back at an audience member who was chastising the film's director Justin Lin and his cast on stage for making an "empty and amoral" film, it was a watershed moment in Asian American cinema.
Mind you, this was at the third screening of Lin's film Better Luck Tomorrow at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival where alot is at stake. Filmmakers are hoping that distribution deals are made.
A video posted on Youtube captured the moment. (click here for the full story with the Youtube video). The audience member said, "You know how to make a movie. But why with the talent up there and yourself make a film as so empty and amoral for Asian Americans and Americans?"
Then Roger Ebert gets up and says "What I find very condescending and disturbing about your statement is nobody would say to a bunch of white filmmakers, "How could you do this to your people?!" (applause from the crowd) Then Ebert continues, "Yes, film has the right to be about these people and Asian American characters have the right to be whoever the hell they want to be. They do not have to represent their people."
And as America's influential dean of film critics sat back down in his seat, he had just put Better Luck Tomorrow on the map.
Better Luck Tomorrow Directed by Justin Lin, MTV...