Toronto: Roger Ebert Tribute to Open Fest

Roger Ebert

Film critic Roger Ebert, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who put his thumbprint on film criticism, has died at 70. Just days before, Ebert announced that he would be taking a "leave of presence" to fight a recurrence of cancer.

A video homage to the late film critic will play ahead of the screening of "The Fifth Estate" on Thursday.

The Toronto Film Festival will open with a tribute to the late film critic Roger Ebert, it was announced Wednesday.

The event will begin at 8 p.m. Thursday with a video tribute to Ebert, who died in April after a battle with cancer.

Ebert was a fixture at the Canadian film festival since its inception in 1976, calling the event “the most important in North America.”

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The tribute will take place in Roy Thomson Hall, which seats about 2,000, and will feature video homages to Ebert from festival co-founder Bill Marshall, former festival director Helga Stephenson, producer Robert Lantos and others. The tribute will precede the screening of The Fifth Estate.

“Roger loved the Toronto audiences because they were so passionate about movies,” said Ebert’s wife, Chaz, in a statement. “He would stand in line and hold discussions with the moviegoers about which films to see. He was impressed that attending the festival was how some of them chose to spend their vacation time. He said the audience was a huge factor in making the festival one of his favorites, so this honor means a great deal.”

The festival, which runs Sept. 5-15, will present Chaz Ebert with a commemorative plaque, a replica of one that has been installed on a chair named in her husband’s honor inside TIFF Bell Lightbox’s Cinema One.