Cinema Toast Honors the Great and Gracious Teacher, Roger Ebert

By Gil Mansergh

Those of you familiar with my film columns in-print, on-air, and on-line may not know that the “tell it like it is” style I use comes directly from advice I received from Roger Ebert. I had already been writing my Screenings column for several years when I was introduced to Roger at a book festival in Los Angeles. I explained I was a fellow film columnist and had read his latest movie yearbook from cover to cover before I penned my first column (which was about the Australian film Muriel’s Wedding).

I recall Roger looked at my name badge carefully before replying: “You know Gil,” he said. “You can only write about what you see and hear onscreen—but what you see is influenced by everything else you have ever seen and read and heard and felt. If you can share that unique perspective on the page—share what you see and hear through your own set of experiences, then you can provide your readers with a valuable point-of-view. That’s what I try to do, and what people tell me encourages them or even angers them sometimes. It is what Gene [Siskel] does as well, and it is why we respect each other’s opinions about a particular film—even when we think the other one is completely wrong.”

Following his own advice, Roger Ebert wrote the following words on his blog two days ago: “So on this day of reflection, I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I’ll see you at the movies.”