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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Cannes American Pavilion Honors Roger Ebert

Friday May 15, 2009 the American Pavilion at Cannes was honored to have Martin Scorsese in attendance while Roger Ebert cut the ribbon for the conference room renamed in honor of the esteemed critic.

The American Pavilion has been a fixture at the Cannes Film Festival for twenty-one years, and was in fact the first tent to appear on the white snds of the famed beach. Now it stands as the center mark of dozens of temporary embassies for film offices from all over the world. During its entire existence The American Pavilion has had the previledge of Roger Ebert’s presence as he dedicated a lot of his time while in Cannes to hosting or moderating many panels, discussions and presentations under it’s canopy. So, it was only natural that those running the Pavilion (Director Julie Sisk and Managing Director Lynn McCreary) would choose to honor the preeminent voice of modern American film criticism with the renaming of the well-known and frequented conference room.

The ceremony was a simple and casually elegant affair, with key representatives from the film festival as well as Nice city officials participating in the festivities. Pavilion Director, Julie Sisk officiated over the dedication and spoke about the Pavilion’s long and warm history with Ebert. Sisk then introduced the Festival’s President, Edouard Baer who also spoke of Ebert’s key involvement with the Festival since it’s inception and his connection to the Festivals’ ever changing, ever growing relevance in the film world. He in turn handed the microphone over to one of Ebert’s favorite targets, Martin Scorsese, who warmly prodded his old friend with a reminder of their less than congenial times when Ebert did not always have a kind word for the filmmaker’s work. Never the less, Scorsese continued to bestow sincere, heartfelt praise upon Ebert as he held court at the Pavilion’s entrance while the paparazzi constantly and adamantly covered the milestone with a blaze of flashing cameras.

Although Ebert had recently undergone constructive sergery to rebuild the part of his jaw lost to cancer, he graciously stood by with his wife, Chaz accepting the on going well earned praise. As the kudos subsided he responded (aided by a laptop computer) with a prepared, yet lovely, personal and touching thank you for all those involved at the American Pavilion, the Cannes Film Festival, Martin Scorsese, and the attendees who keep coming year after year, making the Cannes Film Festival the film event it has become today. With Martin Scorsese by his side, Ebert and his wife cut the red ribbon spanning the American Pavilion’s entrance, officially opening the Roger Ebert Conference Room doors to the Cannes public, and the generations of festival attendees to come in the future.

Scorsese was quickly off to another Festival event, but Ebert remained to mingle in the recently christened room. His spirits were high and his demeanor festive as students, filmmakers and festival attendees took their turns congratulating the man of the hour. Although he could not speak to them, it was clear that Ebert was communicating with each and everyone of them through the expression in his eyes. It was a wonderful end to the first afternoon at Cannes as the sun began to set and opening night attendees began arriving on the red carpet. On with the show!

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