The late Roger Ebert will be honoured on the opening night of the Toronto International Film Festival.
Festival organizers will feature a video tribute to the legendary film critic prior to the world premiere screening of Wikileaks drama The Fifth Estate at Roy Thomson Hall on Thursday.
Festival co-founder Bill Marshall, former festival director Helga Stephenson and Canadian film producer Robert Lantos are among those slated to take part in the tribute.
Ebert’s widow, Chaz, will be presented with a commemorative plaque.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning critic died in April at the age of 70.
Ebert had been a longtime fixture at the Toronto festival from its early days until recent years, when he could no longer speak after having his jaw surgically removed due to cancer.
Despite his illness, Ebert continued to be a prolific writer with an active presence on social media.
After news broke of his death, TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey described Ebert as “the most important film critic in the world.” Bailey said the fact that the late writer came to Toronto and loved the festival so much “meant everything to us.”
“He came every year, he saw movies, he wrote about movies, he wrote about them as having premiered at Toronto, and I think he liked the fact that we were a public festival,” Bailey told The Canadian Press.
“He liked actually seeing movies with a public audience in Toronto, he seemed to like the vibe of the place, and in the early years he had a lot of fun in Toronto as well.”