3rd Annual Ebert Symposium

The 2020 Chaz & Roger Ebert Symposium will be presented as a virtual series this fall, bringing together filmmakers and scholars to discuss a variety of issues relevant to the media industry.

The series, which is free and open to the public, will premiere on Thursday, October 8, with a panel moderated by Ebertfest co-founder Chaz Ebert and Ebertfest director Nate Kohn. Each event will be broadcast on both the Ebertfest YouTube channel and Facebook page at 5 p.m. CST on their respective dates. See details about each panel below or in the panel menu links.


The Movie Industry in a Time of Change


The panel will examine the film industry in a time of great change, from the global pandemic wrought by COVID-19 to the protests following the death of George Floyd and concomitant efforts to dismantle systemic racism in the United States.

Moderated by Chaz Ebert and Nate Kohn, the filmmaker panel will examine how movies get made, who gets to make them, and how movies get to be seen and exhibited in light of recent challenges. Panelists include Michael Barker, co-president and co-founder of Sony Pictures Classics; Neal Block, head of distribution and marketing for Magnolia Pictures; filmmaker Melissa Haizlip; Darrien Michele Gipson, executive director of SAGindie; filmmaker Malcolm D. Lee; filmmaker Mary Mazzio; Nina Shaw, founding partner in the entertainment law firm of Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano; and filmmaker Christine Swanson.


Documentary Film and Social Change


The panel will examine documentary film including features, community engaged projects, and cell-phone footage as political discourse directed towards social change. They will discuss documentary as a means to examine public life and engage public participation in social issues. College of Media faculty members Jay Rosenstein, professor of media and cinema studies; Alison Davis, lecturer in journalism; and Angela Aguayo, associate professor of media and cinema studies, will head a panel with documentary filmmakers Kirby Dick, Sacha Jenkins, and Dawn Porter (see bios below).


Representation in Media


This panel will examine how television, film, and other media represent and portray certain types of people or communities. College of Media faculty members Angharad Valdivia, research professor of media and cinema studies will lead special guests in a discussion of the importance of balanced representation, the need to challenge stereotypes, and show how the media industry has progressed to try to eliminate unconditional bias.