Roger Ebert Scholarship to help young critics at Sundance
Published: June 19, 2013 01:50PM
Updated: June 6, 2013 02:33PM
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In this April 27, 2011 photo, Roger Ebert speaks to a gathering for the Thirteenth Annual Roger Ebert's Film Festival at the Virginia Theater in Champaign, Ill. Ebert, the most famous and most popular film reviewer of his time who became the first journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize for movie criticism and, on his long-running TV program, wielded the nation's most influential thumb, died Thursday, April 4, 2013. He was 70. (AP Photo/The News-Gazette, Robert K. O'Daniell)

The memory of Roger Ebert will be honored at next January’s Sundance Film Festival, by a new generation of movie critics learning to do what he did.

At the “Celebrate Sundance” fund-raiser held Wednesday night (where Ebert was awarded, posthumously, Sundance’s Vanguard Award), Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam announced the establishment of the Roger Ebert Scholarship for Film Criticism.

The scholarship will provide grants to six-to-eight young critics, so they can attend and cover the Sundance Film Festival next January as part of the Indiewire Critics Academy. Student critics also will be paired with pro mentors for a year after the festival.

Sundance and IndieWire are trying to raise $25,000 for the scholarship, through an online campaign.

Ebert was an early and ardent supporter of Sundance, and a regular visitor to Park City before his health issues prevented his attendance. (He did return in 2010, and Robert Redford made it a point after the pre-festival press conference to step into the audience and greet Ebert personally.)

At Wednesday night’s fund-raiser, Ebert’s widow Chaz accepted the Vanguard award. “Storytelling is what Roger loved about Sundance,” Chaz Ebert said. “It is there you see films about kindness and empathy and begin to understand what makes people tick.”