Errol Morris dedicated his latest documentary The Unknown Known to Roger Ebert, but he wasn’t done paying his respects to the late film critic when he rolled through the Toronto International Film Festival on Tuesday.
“I would pay respect to him in many, many, many, many ways,” the animated Morris said from a high-rise hotel suite.
“He was a really fabulous part of my life, a good friend, a champion, an inspiring writer. I loved Roger.”
Morris, whose latest film is a fascinating feature-length interview with former U.S. Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, then retold one specific Ebert anecdote.
In 2010, Morris helmed the documentary Tabloid centring on former Miss Wyoming Joyce McKinney, who in the 1970s had been accused of kidnapping and raping a Mormon missionary.
Ebert lavished the film with a four-star review, calling it a “spellbinding enigma.”
The critic then received a blistering missive from McKinney herself.
“She sent Roger a 14,000-word e-mail, which was really insane,” Morris recalled. “By the way, there’s the insane, let’s put that over here on the left, and on the right over here we have the REALLY insane – the unquestionably insane, the indisputably insane. Insane squared.
“And so he sent me this thing and said, ‘Well, what should I do about this?’ She attacked me, she attacked him, on and on and on. I said, ‘I don’t think you should really do anything...’
“But I made a poster of it.”
That film also bowed at the Toronto International Film Festival, where Ebert was a beloved fixture until he died of cancer in April.
Morris is among the many who feel the festival is worse off for his absence.
“I miss Roger,” he said. “Roger was really sweet and really funny and a really good guy, you know? What’s there not to love?”