Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, co-founded and hosted by Chaz Ebert and also known as ‘Ebertfest”, announced that 13TH directed by Ava DuVernay, Belle, directed by Amma Asante, and Daughters of the Dust directed by Julie Dash have been selected as the initial films in this year’s slate.

“What an honor to have these Three Queens of Cinema grace our festival,” said Chaz Ebert. “Ava DuVernay first met Roger outside of the practice arena for the Academy Awards when she was 8 years old. She was accompanied by her aunt whose death later inspired Ava’s poignant independent film, I Will Follow that Roger gave Thumbs Up. Now she is directing a 100 million dollar movie. But why I am especially thrilled to have her at our 20th anniversary is because of all of the good work she is doing in Hollywood to assure that women and people of color are having opportunities that were not available before. She didn’t stop at her own success, she reached out and invited others to come along.”

Dash’s ground breaking film Daughters of the Dust is the first feature directed by an African American woman to receive a general theatrical release.  DuVernay’s 13th currently streams on Netflix, and won a Critics Choice Documentary Award for Best Director, Best Documentary Feature (in the TV/Streaming category), and Best Political Documentary, won a BAFTA Award for Best Documentary, and was awarded with a Peabody Award. Assante’s feature film Belle, stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw and grossed over $16M in 2014.

DuVernay, Asante, and Dash will all be in attendance and participate in the Q&A’s following their screenings.

The 20th Anniversary of Ebertfest will be held April 18-22, 2018 at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign, IL with related talks and panel discussions to be held at the Hyatt Place in Champaign and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This year’s event will be dedicated to its namesake and co-founder, Roger Ebert, and to the festival’s cherished friend, Mary Frances Fagan. Dubbed Ebertfest’s “Guardian Angel” by Roger Ebert, Fagan worked for American Airlines and made essential travel for filmmakers possible through generous support over two decades.

Chaz Ebert is the festival co-founder and producer and Nate Kohn is the festival director. Major filmmakers, stars, historians, critics and film-lovers from all over the world come to experience this annual celebration that includes films from lists Roger drew up over the first 15 years of the festival, as well as others selected by Chaz Ebert and Festival Director Nate Kohn based on Roger’s established criteria for an Ebertfest film.

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Founder, HBR Media

K. Nicole Mills is the Founder of HBR Media. She transitioned from Wall Street to television and film development, and has worked at NBCUniversal, Universal Pictures, and Showtime Networks. She currently develops digital programming for premium networks. Reach out anytime! info@hbrmedia.org

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