Don’t let his Hollywood Walk of Fame star fool you: Ebert has always supported the indies. Along with tirelessly promoting smaller films in his weekly column in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic has lent his name, his influence and his work ethic to Ebertfest, a 10-year-old annual event devoted to underappreciated cinema.
“Knowing what a struggle it is to get a first or second film made, I find it exhilarating when a gifted new director appears on the scene,” Ebert says. “The independent film world is the port of embarkation for most new directors, and, for some of the best, it is also the destination. Their spirit inspires us all.”