Ebertfest is a celebration of film, and ironically, it is a beautiful event to capture photographically. The Virginia Theater feels like a place from the past with updates, thus giving it a look of classic beauty and modern cleanliness.
Movie goers were really excited for the event and stood in line down the block of State Street, waiting for the opening.
All access passes this year were $145, which if you were to see all of the movies, that would come out to about $11 per flick.
Movie goers quickly moved into the theater around 7:45 p.m. to get snacks and take their seats for Life Itself, a documentary about Ebert.
Fans with smiles basked in the glow of the movie projector anticipating the first showing of the festival.
This year was particularly special because it was announced that a lifelike statue of Ebert (pictured at the top) giving the "thumbs up" would be unveiled and kept at the Virginia Theater permanently. The statue is made of bronze, like Alma, and cost a bit over $100,000.
Many sat next to the statue and had friends take their picture, and others snapped what most would call a "selfie," including this Smile Politely Photographer.
Ebertfest is just one of the many events that make Champaign-Urbana special and the editors and staff at Smile Politely want to thank the organizers, staff, and crew for a wonderful festival.