Roger Ebert Returns With Illinois Film Festival, Raging Bull Analogy

The world's best known movie critic and self-proclaimed thumb war champion, Roger Ebert, has issued an update on his health (better) and announced the Ebert-esque line-up for 2008's Roger Ebert Film Festival aka Ebertfest at his alma mater, the University of Illinois. So, how's the guy doing?

"I am at last returning to the movie beat. After my current stay at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, I'm looking forward to opening night of my annual film festival at the University of Illinois on April 23, and I will resume writing movie reviews shortly thereafter.

Are you as bored with my health as I am? I underwent a third surgery in January, this one in Houston, and once again there were complications. I am sorry to say that my ability to speak was not restored. That would require another surgery."

Ebert's also found inspiration in the mug of one Jake La Motta...

"It was Schrader's line from his screenplay for Martin Scorsese's "Raging Bull" that inspired my acceptance of my bandaged appearance: "I ain't a pretty boy no more."

As for the film festival, which takes place April 23-27 at the Virgina Theatre in the city of Champaign, it's filled with what Ebert calls "overlooked" films, including Univ. of Illinois alum Ang Lee's Hulk, Tarsem Singh's JLo oddity The Cell, and Bill Forsyth's '50s-set familial drama Housekeeping. On hand for the festivities will be Forsyth, writer-director Paul Schrader (whose Auto Focus rocks), Aida Turturro (The Sopranos) and several others. Yeah, Roeper will be there. Full line-up after the jump.

Discuss: Was The Cell or Ang Lee's Hulk overlooked? Is Ebert pushing it?

Wednesday, April 23

7 pm — "Hamlet" (Kenneth Branagh, 1996)

Thursday, April 24

1 pm — "Delirious" (Tom DiCillo, 2007)

4 pm — "Yes" (Sally Potter, 2004)

8:30 p.m. — "Canvas" (Joseph Greco, 2006)

"Citizen Cohl: The Untold Story" (Barry Avrich, 2008),

a tribute to Dusty Cohl

Friday, April 25

11:30 am — "Shotgun Stories" (Jeff Nichols, 2007)

2 pm — ”Underworld” (Josef von Sternberg, 1927), Alloy Orchestra

7 pm — "The Real Dirt on Farmer John" (Taggart Siegel, 2005)

10 pm — "Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters" (Paul Schrader, 1985)

Saturday, April 26

11 am — "Hulk" (Ang Lee, 2003)

3 pm — "The Band's Visit" (Eran Klirin, 2007)

7:30 pm — "Housekeeping" (Bill Forsyth, 1987)

11 pm — "The Cell" (Tarsem Singh, 2000)

Sunday, April 27

Noon — "Romance & Cigarettes" (John Turturro, 2006)