2008 FESTIVAL PANELISTS & SPECIAL GUESTS     Guests - Film Screenings

MICHAEL BARKER (co-President, Sony Pictures Classics)
Michael Barker has been the Co-President of Sony Pictures Classics since its inception over 17 years ago. Sony Pictures Classics produces, distributes and acquires independent films from all over the world. Currently playing and upcoming features include the Academy Award® winning “The Counterfeiters,” the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner “The Wackness,” the Sundance Film Festival Grand Prize winner “Frozen River,” “Persepolis,”  “Redbelt” (David Mamet), “Standard Operating Procedure” (Errol Morris), “Dancing With Shiva” (Jonathan Demme), and “Baghead” (Duplass Brothers). Over the years, Michael has worked with some of the world's finest filmmakers, including Akira Kurosawa, Louis Malle, Pedro Alomodovar, Zhang Yimou, Ingmar Bergman, Guillermo del Toro and Robert Altman.  Past successes include “Capote,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Howards End,” all nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award®.

DAVID BORDWELL (film scholar)
David Bordwell is retired from teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has written several books on film aesthetics and history, and he is a particular fan of silent movies and Asian filmmaking.

A collection of his essays, “Poetics Of Cinema,” was published in fall 2007.

ERIC BYLER (writer/director)
Chinese American writer/director Eric Byler was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his debut feature "Charlotte Sometimes" (Ebertfest 2003), which also earned a supporting actress nomination for actress Jacqueline Kim.  His latest feature, a "Charlotte Sometimes" sequel called "Tre" was released theatrically by Cinema Libre Studio and will be released on DVD on May 6th. Eric's adaptation of Shawn Wong's novel "Americanese" (starring Joan Chen, Chris Tashima and Kelly Hu) was acquired for theatrical release by IFC Films after winning the Audience Award and the Special Jury Award at the South by Southwest Film Festival.  His current projects include the renowned interactive YouTube documentary "9500 Liberty" about the politicization of the immigration issue in Northern Virginia.

RICHARD CORLISS (film writer)
Richard Corliss writes on movies and other aspects of popular culture for TIME magazine and TIME.com.  His books are "Talking Pictures: Screenwriters in the American Cinema," "Greta Garbo" and "Lolita," a study of the Nabokov novel and Kubrick film.  Before TIME, he wrote pieces for The New York Times, National Review, Film Quarterly and The Village Voice.  From 1970 to 1990, he was editor of Film Comment magazine, where he was honored to shepherd many articles by Roger Ebert.

MARY CORLISS (film curator)
Mary Corliss ran the Museum of Modern Art Film Stills Archive from 1967 to early 2002, when the abrupt closing of the Archive triggered an outcry from many film professionals, first and most prominently Roger Ebert.  As an Assistant Curator at MoMA, she also curated more than 40 film exhibitions, on such wide-ranging subjects as the Hollywood Art Director, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Yiddish films and Warner Bros. cartoons.  Her articles on films and film festivals have appeared in  Film Comment, SoHo Weekly News, Cahiers du Cinema, and TIME.com.

JIM EMERSON (film critic, editor of RogerEbert.com).
Jim Emerson is a writer and film critic with experience in nearly every aspect of making and watching movies, including screenwriting (and re-writing and re-writing), production, editing, exhibition, marketing, publishing features, interviews, criticism, and academic study. He is the founding editor-in-chief of, and a contributor to, RogerEbert.com, where he has a blog called Scanners (after the David Cronenberg movie).

Emerson was the editor of the late Microsoft Cinemania, a multimedia movie encyclopedia on CD-ROM and the web, and he has been the editorial director of other massive film-related internet projects, such as Reel.com and FilmPix.com. A member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (while based in L.A. as the movie critic for the Orange County Register), he has written for many on- and off-line outlets, including Knight-Ridder, The Seattle Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Sun-Times, Film Comment, The Rocket, the Seattle Weekly, MSN Movies, Premiere, Amazon.com, CinePad.com and NPR affiliate KUOW.

He is also the co-author (with his friend and sometime writing partner, Julia Sweeney) of the play and screenplay, “Mea’s Big Apology,” and the film, “It’s Pat: The Movie,” and was a guest writer for Saturday Night Live in 1994. He is an extra special creative consultant for Julia's acclaimed stage monologue (and eventual film), “Letting Go of God.” Emerson has programmed loads of films and series for the likes of Seattle's Market Theater, the University of Washington, the Seattle International Film Festival (1982 to 1987), and the Floating Film Festival (1998 to present).

He lives with his dogs, Frances and Edith, in Seattle.

C.O. "DOC" ERICKSON (executive producer/production manager)

C.O. "Doc" Erickson, an executive producer, has over thirty years' experience as a producer and production manager on many of Hollywood's biggest films.  He began his career at Paramount Pictures, serving as production manager on five Alfred Hitchcock films:  "Rear Window," "To Catch A Thief," "The Trouble with Harry," "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and "Vertigo."  He left Paramount to become John Huston's associate producer on "The Misfits," "Freud," and "Reflections in a Golden Eye."  He was production manager on Joseph L. Mankiewicz's "There Was A Crooked Man” and “Cleopatra.”   He also spent three years supervising film production for Brut Productions and later became associated with Robert Evans on "Chinatown," "Players," "Urban Cowboy," and "Popeye."  Other producer/production credits include "55 Days at Peking," "Blade Runner," "Nicholas and Alexandra," "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "Magic," and "The Lonely Guy."

HANNAH FISHER (film consultant)
Hannah Fisher is a film consultant with extensive international experience. She has focused her attention on the creation, development and production of film festival events.  In this capacity she has worked with festival organizations throughout Asia and Eastern Europe, developing major long-term contacts throughout China, Hong Kong, Thailand, India and the Eastern European block. Her experience includes festival events in Canada, Kenya, Brazil and Venezuela. At present, Fisher is one of the senior programmers of the Dubai International Film Festival and most recently acted as Program Director for the 10th Floating Film Festival, an event established by Dusty Cohl.  She is currently producing a concert film featuring Indian classical music to be shot in New Delhi in February 2009.

HADJII (writer/director/actor/humorist)
Writer/director/actor/humorist Hadjii was born and raised in Brunswick, Georgia.  He graduated from the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication with a BA in Telecommunications Arts.  In 2004, he was a finalist in the Image Film Festival Perfect Pitch Competition with his pitch for his original screenplay, "My Father's Business."

His 2002 short film "The Making of Brick City" won 2nd place at the 2002 Peach City Short Film Festival and was featured in the 2003 Hollywood Black Film Festival.  He was also a semi-finalist in the 2002 Hollywood Black Film Festival Storytelling Competition, and he was an invited panelist discussing the state of African-American film at Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festivals in 2004 and 2007. Earnest Hardy of the LA Weekly praised Hadjii's work for its "potent mix of irreverence and social consciousness."  Hadjii’s first feature film, “Somebodies,” which he wrote, directed, and starred in, debuted in the dramatic competition at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and screened at numerous other festivals including Cleveland, AFI, Sarasota (where he won the Best Screenplay award) and Roger Ebert’s Overlooked Festival.  “Somebodies” will be released theatrically by BET Films in 2008. Hadjii is also Executive Producer, Writer, Director, and Star of “Somebodies,” a half-hour comedy TV series, which will air on BET also in 2008. His first book, “Don’t Let My Mama Read This,” will be published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House, in April 2008.

BILL NACK (sports writer)
William Nack, a Skokie native, attended the University of Illinois as an undergraduate from 1959 through 1964, graduating with a BS from the College of Communications. His senior year, he served as sports editor of the Daily Illini under editor-in-chief Roger Ebert. The following school year, he served as the DI's editor-in-chief while a graduate student.

Nack left Illinois in 1966 to join the US Army, where he served as assistant editor of Infantry Magazine at Fort Benning in Columbus, GA, then on the staff of Gen. William C. Westmoreland in Vietnam. He rotated home in the spring of 1966.

Nack then worked as a reporter at Newsday newspaper on Long Island, where he covered politics, government and the environment. In the Spring of 1972, he jumped to covering thoroughbred horse racing---his hobby and passion since working around horses as a kid---and later wrote the biography of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat. Disney Studios will begin producing a movie based upon it later this summer. Nack will be a consultant on the project. He also wrote a biography of the brilliant and ill-starred filly Ruffian, who died of injuries suffered in a 1975 match race. An award-winning ESPN movie about her life made its ABC-TV debut a year ago.  He was also the consulting producer of that film.

In 1979, after 11 years at Newsday, Nack began a 23-year career at Sports Illustrated Magazine, covering a wide variety of sports and subjects.  Since his retirement as a senior writer at Sports Illustrated, Nack has done freelance work for Time Magazine, GQ, S.I., and ESPN.com. Aside from consulting on film, he has worked as a writer and on-camera host and narrator for the pilot of proposed series "Unsettled Scores." The pilot, which debuted last summer, has been nominated for an Emmy Award®.  Nack has also worked to write profiles of major sporting figures for use on ESPN television, serving as on-camera narrator and host, upon their demise.  These also run, in expanded form, on ESPN.com.

Nack has won seven Eclipse Awards, the racing industry's equivalent of the Oscars®, for excellence in turf-writing, as well as the A.J. Liebling Award, given by the Boxing Writers Association of America, for general excellence in his coverage of that sport.
Most recently, Nack has just finished serving as guest editor for Houghton-Mifflin's annual sports anthology, "Best American Sports Writing 2008." 

He is married to educator Carolyne Starek and lives with her and Milton, the millennium cat, in Washington, DC.

MICHAEL PHILLIPS (movie critic, Chicago Tribune).
Michael Phillips is the film critic of the Chicago Tribune and, at the moment, he has the honor and the privilege of filling in for Roger on "At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper." Years ago, he wrote about film for the San Diego Union-Tribune and the Twin Cities weekly, City Pages, where he also served as arts editor. He was film critic for Minnesota Public Radio. Across the last 20 years he has been the drama critic of the Dallas Times Herald; the San Diego Union-Tribune; the St. Paul Pioneer Press; the Los Angeles Times; and the Chicago Tribune.

Currently he teaches at the University of Chicago Graham School, the annual USC/NEA arts journalism workshop, and will return to teach this summer at the Eugene O'Neill National Critics Institute in Waterford, Connecticut. Phillips can be heard every Friday talking about movies with Spike O'Dell on WGN-AM, and his popular two-minute video reviews of the latest releases can be found at chicagotribune.com, should the website be in the navigating mood. He lives on Chicago's northwest side with his wife, Andrea Lenaburg, and their 7-year-old son, John.

ERIC PIERSON (film scholar)
Eric Pierson is an Associate Professor and Department Chair of the Communication Studies Department at the University of San Diego. His current book project, “Blaxploitation: Hollywood’s Cash Cow Revisited and Reframed,” focuses on the political, economic, and social climate that contributed to the manufacturing and maintenance of Blaxploitation films.

His work on black images and audiences has appeared in the “Encyclopedia of African American Business History,” “Screening Noir” and the “Encyclopedia of the Great Black Migration.” He has done research in the area of public policy, of which his most recent work appears in the Journal of Mass Media Ethics. His co-authored piece entitled “The Rhetoric of Hate on the Internet: Hateporn’s Challenge to the Modern Media Ethics”, explores the role and responsibility of internet service providers with regard to content that encourages bigotry and hate.

DAVID POLAND (writer/publisher)
David Poland is the publisher/editor of Movie City News and is about to celebrate the 11th anniversary of his column, “The Hot Button.”  He also blogs, causing many people to write very nasty things (and more often, really smart stuff).  This is his 9th Ebertfest and he is, as ever, thrilled to celebrate all things Roger.

RICHARD ROEPER (film critic)
Richard Roeper is in his eighth year as the co-host of "At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper." Roeper's daily newspaper column has been appearing in the Chicago Sun-Times since 1987, has been syndicated to newspapers throughout the world, and has garnered numerous honors, including the National Headliner Award. He has contributed to Esquire, TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly, Maxim and other publication, and in 2000, he was named as one of People Magazine's 50 most eligible bachelors.

Roeper is the author of seven books, including "Debunked!" which will be published in June 2008.

From 2002-2005, Roeper was the film critic for the CBS affiliate in Chicago. Prior to that, he was a regular commentator for seven years on the Fox affiliate in Chicago, winning two Emmys®.

Roeper has hosted talk shows on numerous Chicago radio stations, including WLS-AM and WLUP-FM. He has appeared as a guest on such TV programs as "The Tonight Show," "Top Chef," "Nightline," "Live with Regis & Kelly," "The Best Damn Sports Show," "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," "The Howard Stern Show" and the "Today Show.”

LISA ROSMAN (festival blogger)
A former labor organizer, Lisa Rosman has worked as a film writer and editor for such publications as Us Weekly, The Brooklyn Rail, Indiewire, and Premiere magazine and has commentated on the Oxygen Channel, TNT, the IFC, and for public radio. She is also the film editor of the online magazine Flavorpill (http://flavorpill.net).

KRISTIN THOMPSON (film scholar)
Kristin Thompson is an Honorary Fellow in the Dept. of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Her eleventh book, “The Frodo Franchise:  The Lord of the Rings and Modern Hollywood” (for which she interviewed Roger Ebert on the subject of press junkets) came out last year from the University of California Press.  Her previous books include “Storytelling in the New Hollywood” (Harvard, 1999) and “Herr Lubitsch Goes to Hollywood” (Amsterdam, 2005).