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.”