“Better Luck Tomorrow” premiered at Sundance 2002, four years before Ebert lost his voice to cancer. And the YouTube title sells it short: “Roger Ebert yelling at Sundance.”
But, as the clip shows at about 30 seconds in, what a voice it was.
“Better Luck Tomorrow” was the solo feature-directing debut of Justin Lin, who went on to launch the “Fast & Furious” franchise. It’s the story of overachieving Asian high schoolers who dabble in some seriously criminal activities.
Shot at the film’s third screening, a viewer takes Lin and his team to task at the Q&A: “Why, with the talent yup there and yourself, make a film so empty and amoral for Asian Americans and for Americans?”
As the filmmakers struggle to find the words to form a response, Ebert stands up and leaps into the fray.
“What I find very offensive and condescending about your statement is nobody would say to a bunch of white filmmakers, ‘How could you do this to your people?'”
And he’s just getting started.
This is why we loved him: Not only was he an unparalleled film lover and scholar, but he was fearless and outspoken, without grandstanding. Well done, sir.
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