Neon's AMAZING GRACE To Open This Year's Ebertfest

The 21st Annual Roger Ebert's Film Festival, co-founded and hosted by Chaz Ebert and also known as 'Ebertfest", announced today that Alan Elliott's AMAZING GRACE will open this year's festival. AMAZING GRACE is the highly-anticipated concert film presenting Aretha Franklin's live performance at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Los Angeles in January 1972.

Director Alan Elliott and producer Tirrell D. Whittley will be in attendance to discuss the film. Following the screening, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir will perform live on stage at the Virginia Theatre.

"Most years our Opening Night film has been a 70 mm celluloid, but this year it will be 70mm of soul," said Chaz Ebert, co-founder and host of Ebertfest. "Instead of ending this year's Ebertfest with a musical, as per tradition, we are opening it on a glorious, gospel-infused high note, thanks to Alan Elliott's pristine restoration of the Sydney Pollack directed film chronicling the gospel performance of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin over two days in 1972. Amazingly, the 'Amazing Grace' footage sat in a Warner Bros. vault for 35 years before Elliott made it his mission to ensure the film's release, a journey that took 11 years. We are thrilled to be presenting the film at Ebertfest as it finally receives a theatrical release in the U.S." critic Odie Henderson wrote in his four-star review "This film is a powerful love letter to the Black Church, offering a soul-shaking introduction for the unfamiliar and a grandmotherly yank of the arm for those who know-it drags you from the theater straight into the pews."

AMAZING GRACE will be released in theaters by NEON in April 2019. For additional information on the film, please visit

The 21st Anniversary of Ebertfest will be held April 10-13, 2019 at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign, IL with related talks and panel discussions to be held at the Hyatt Place in Champaign and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Passes are now available for purchase and cost $150, plus processing. Four passes purchased together are $510 instead of $600, or 15 percent off. Also available are a small number of U. of I. student passes priced at $100 each. They can be purchased through the festival website, the theater website or the theater box office, 203 W. Park Ave., Champaign, 217-356-9063. Updates will be posted on the festival website. Tickets for individual movies will be available April 1.

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