If I could name any film critic that had an influence on me, it would be Roger Ebert. I think it was his conversational approach and emotional honesty. Something was personal for me when I read his words. I felt like even if I disagreed with him, I still always understood where he was coming from. Just yesterday I read his most recent blog post where he admitted that cancer had come upon him again. Yet he was still so optimistic. We have lost him now. This is a sad day.
On two occasions I met the man. I attended the University of Illinois, his alma mater. While there, I had the opportunity to volunteer for his "Ebertfest", which was his film festival that he holds every year in April at the glorious Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign, IL. I remember greeting him and opening the door for him at the back of the theater, as I was a "crowd-support" volunteer. It was at the beginning of the opening night showing of Patton, back in 2002. He was gracious to me.
A few years later, while living in Chicago, I went to see him speak at a Barnes and Noble store, at the Orchard Creek Mall, back in 2005. Well he was signing my copy of his "Great Movies volume I" and I told him that I had a lot of fun volunteering at his festival. He told me that he really appreciated my help and thanked me for that.
In the book, he signed it, "Thanks for Ebertfest".....Roger Ebert.