“Roger Ebert played an integral part in conversations and panels,” commented Julie Sisk, founder of the American Pavilion under a rainy sky Friday afternoon in Cannes. So, the American Pavilion (or AmPav to its friends and paying members) took some time off in the afternoon to honor one of America’s beloved critics, Roger Ebert, bringing out the big guns to do it in style.
Martin Scorsese was on hand to take part in the ceremony re-naming the pavilion’s conference and panel space, “The Roger Ebert Conference Center,” leading an array of well-wishers that included Cannes fest head Thierry Fremaux, filmmaker Paul Cox, critics and writers Pierre Rissient, Kenneth Turan, and Anne Thompson, distributors Michael Barker & Tom Bernard from Sony Pictures Classics, and fest heads include Gary Meyer and Julie Huntsinger from Ebert’s beloved Telluride Film Festival.
In a red ribbon cutting ceremony, Scorsese introduced “his old friend” who he thanked for his critiques, saying, “[you’ve] done so much for movies and the people who make movies.” And Ebert thanked Scorsese and the sizeable crowd and photographers who braved the rain at the seaside American Pavilion, one of many tents at the festival’s International Village.
““Over the years I have enjoyed the opportunity to participate in many panels and interviews here at the American Pavilion trying to figure out who is more fun to interview, Tommy Lee Jones or Harvey Weinstein,” commented Ebert speaking through the electronic device he uses to communicate. His bout with cancer has left him unable to talk, yet he continues to write and is writing online daily during the Cannes Film Festival.
“I want things to stay the way they always were,” Ebert begins, in yesterday’s post from the festival. “This is insane, because they weren’t that way in the first place. I see friends who have grown older, and want them to grow younger. In Cannes, I look around and see a new building where an old one was. A new franchise store where once there was a bookshop, or a little cafe, or a woman who thought she could make a living selling flowers. Here was a store where I bought my papers every morning, and Tintin comics so I could improve my reading French. Now it is a Häagen-Dazs, which has splendid ice cream but is a company name made of words in no known language…”
The new Roger Ebert Conference Center welcomed Francis Ford Coppola, in Cannes for his latest film, “Tetro,” on Friday afternoon in the venue, while the heads of Sundance and many others will take part in a host of intimate panels and discussions throughout the Cannes Film Festival, including the American Directors in Cannes discussion tomorrow morning at 10 a.m., reviving the tradition of an annual panel that was regularly hosted by Ebert.