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Virtual Ebert Symposium Series examines how the film industry is evolving during COVID-19, its role in social justice reform and dismantling racism

CHICAGO, Oct. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- As film industry professionals rise to face new realities and production limitations due to COVID-19, the Ebert Symposium at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, College of Media, announces a three-part virtual series examining documentary filmmaking, media bias and representation relative to the events reshaping our world.

On October 8 at 5 p.m. CST, the Ebert Symposium series premiere, “Movies in a Time of Change,” will examine production challenges, the impact of cinemas closing, how movies get made, our stories and who gets to tell them, how films are exhibited and the push for more inclusion and equitable representation. It will feature award-winning writers, producers, directors, with academics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign College of Media, hosted by Chaz Ebert and Dr. Nate Kohn.

The Symposium will bring together esteemed filmmakers and studio executives, media luminaries, entertainment attorneys and academics to contextualize the media's change agency amid the backdrop of a global pandemic, social unrest over the killings of Black Americans by police, and efforts to dismantle systemic racism in the United States.

The series will be streamed on both the Ebertfest YouTube channel and Facebook page at 5 p.m. CST on their respective dates.

On October 8, the series premiere "Movies in a Time of Change" will examine production challenges, the impact of cinemas closing, how movies get made, our stories and who gets to tell them, how films are exhibited and the push for more inclusion and equitable representation. Panelists will include Melissa Haizlip, writer and producer, ("Mr. SOUL!"); Malcolm Lee, director, producer and screenwriter ("Girls Trip," "The Best Man"); Mary Mazzio, founder and CEO of 50 Eggs Inc., an independent film production company dedicated to making socially impactful films ("I AM JANE DOE and "A Most Beautiful Thing"); Christine Swanson, writer and director of award-winning film and TV shows ("Chicago PD"; "The Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel"); and film industry executives Michael Barker, co-founder and co-president, Sony Pictures Classics; Neil Block, head of distribution and marketing with Magnolia Pictures; and Darrien Michele Gipson, executive director of SAGindie, which connects actors with independent filmmakers; and entertainment lawyer Nina Shaw. The discussion will be hosted by Chaz Ebert, CEO of Ebert Digital, publisher of the film review website; and Dr. Nate Kohn, director of the Ebertfest Film Festival, and a professor at the University of Georgia in Athens.

Part Two on October 22 will look at "Documentary Film and Social Change," and on November 5, the series concludes with "Representation in Media," which will center on the biases that creep into film portrayals of people from certain communities, the importance of balanced representation, the need to challenge stereotypes, and industry efforts to eliminate bias. Additional details will be announced on the symposium webpage. Questions for the panelists can be submitted in advance here.

In its third year, the Ebert Symposium is a collaboration between the College of Media and the Roger Ebert Center at U of I. Ebert, who died in 2013, was an Illinois alumnus and Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Robin Beaman  

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SOURCE Ebert Digital LLC

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