Ebert plans 'return to action' after surgery

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Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert said he plans a "return to action" at his upcoming Overlooked Film Festival in Illinois later this month as he continues recovering from cancer surgery.

"I'll watch from the audience," he said in a posting on Tuesday on his Web site, rogerebert.com.

"I think of the festival as the first step on my return to action. Because I will be under scrutiny there, I'll tell you what to expect: a sick guy, getting better, who still loves the movies and the festival," Ebert added.

Ebert, 64, posted the statement dated April 2, to mark the 40th anniversary of his being named film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. He said roughly nine months have passed since his latest surgery for salivary cancer, and his recovery "has been a long and unexpected ordeal."

"I plan to gradually increase my duties in the months to come. I still love writing about the movies. Forty years is not enough," he said.

Last June, Ebert underwent surgery for salivary gland cancer, but about two weeks later, an artery burst in his jaw and kept him hospitalized. It was the start of a series of issues that has prolonged the noted film critic's recovery.

Ebert said he was in bed so long that he "experienced serious deconditioning" for which he underwent physical therapy.

"Because of a tracheostomy, my speaking voice is on hold until my upcoming completion surgery. I am feeling better every day, and my wife Chaz says we can see the light at the end of the tunnel," Ebert said.

In recent months, Ebert has written some reviews for the Sun-Times, held an Oscar contest and contributed to a local Chicago TV station. Meanwhile, his seat on the weekly film review show, "Ebert & Roeper" has been filled by various guest critics.

His Overlooked Film Festival is in its ninth year, and Ebert is the programr and host of the event that takes place April 25-29 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, south of Chicago.
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