Well, the treats from TIFF10 keep coming – months after giving up, the kind person that took the shot above finally sent me the photo below, taken just after the Twitter-oriented event that Mr. Ebert was conducting wrapped up.
This was not my first introduction to the man – Since the late 90s, I’d fairly regularly run into him during TIFF and have a quick chat. He was always amusing and quick witted, and while we’d never talk about the film we’d just seen together, I did my part in trying to tell him about this or that thing I thought worth checking out, be it a restaurant in the city or a film he might have skipped over. Then, for a couple years, he didn’t attend, spending the time fighting the various ailments that eventually took his (speaking) voice.
This year I saw him again a few times, always with his lovely wife by his side. We shared a nice moment when he did his little “happy dance”, one of his rote reactions meant to communicate a more complex idea, after I told him I had just come out of ANOTHER YEAR and loved it very much. I also had a chance to once again express my gratitude for his assistance he showed me back in ’98 when I was writing my thesis (he personally granted me permission to use his review of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN in my work, and even wrote me the phrase, “Send me whatever you write!”).
Standing beside him, he patted me on the back, grabbed my hand, and he motioned to the photographer to take the shot.
A warm memory from the 2010 fest, and a sign that despite everything he’s been through, Mr. Ebert remains at his core a kind, gentle person.