Criticwire is proud to announce the recipients of the 2016 Roger Ebert Fellowship for Film Criticism, a joint project of Indiewire and RogerEbert.com. They are Hunter Harris, Sara Palaez, and Sophia Nguyen.
The three up-and-coming film writers will begin the 2016 Sundance Film Festival by meeting with festival heads John Cooper and Trevor Groth, and spend the rest of the festival interacting with established critics, filmmakers, and festival staff. They will also report from the festival for Criticwire and RogerEbert.com, bringing a fresh perspective to one of the world’s most important film festivals.
In a post proving brief sketches of the Fellows’ backgrounds, Chaz Ebert, said that in addition to writing generally on Sundance and its films, this year’s class of Ebert Fellows have been specifically "tasked with observing and writing about how films foster empathy, kindness or compassion," recalling her late husband’s immortal description of cinema as an "empathy machine."
She also points out that this year’s class is an especially "accomplished and diverse" one. "It is my opinion that diversity affects not only how we see the world, but how we begin to heal it," she writes. "Movies serve many purposes, but one of the civilizing aspects of film is that of empathizing with, rather than otherizing different cultures, races, genders and socio-economic classes."
Ebert’s observation echoes the call to action issued by "Creed’s" Ryan Coogler, who while accepting the New Generation award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association last week, challenged them to "Reach back into the community and… find the diversity. Find those voices that are in places that you might not think to look."
Check Criticwire later this week for a further introduction to the Ebert Fellows, and look for their writing on the site in the near future.