Telluride: 2013 Festival Dedicated to Roger Ebert

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Roger Ebert

The late critic long championed the Colorado event and its films.

This year's Telluride Film Festival will be dedicated, in part, to Roger Ebert, it was announced Thursday.

The late movie critic was a fixture at the Colorado film festival, the 40th edition of which begins on Thursday, and championed the festival and its films in his writing.

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"I'm deeply touched that the board of the Telluride Film Festival decided to honor Roger this way and I send my sincere thanks and congratulations on their 40-year anniversary to festival directors Tom Luddy, Gary Meyer, and Julie Huntsinger," Ebert’s wife, Chaz, said in a statement.

"Roger loved going to film festivals to find little movie gems and always had a soft spot for Telluride in particular," she added. "He admired the wide diversity of films and the fact that, in many cases, it offered attendees their only chance to see certain important retrospectives."

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This year's festival also marks the opening of the Werner Herzog theater, which received a generous, anonymous donation in honor of Ebert, who had long admired the director.

The festival, which runs through Sept. 2, is also dedicated to other members of the film world who died in the past 12 months: documentarian Les Blank, philanthropist and Telluride supporter George Gund and writer/director Donald Richie.

Ebert passed away in April after a battle with cancer.