IFP honors Roger Ebert with a Gotham Award
Nov. 27 which he plans to accept in New York

THIS IS ROGER EBERT’S YEAR for prestigious awards. He will receive the Gotham Award presented by the Independent Feature Project Nov. 27 in New York.

The Gotham prize was awarded to only one other film critic, The New Yorker’s late Pauline Kael in 1995.

“Through all the outlets at his disposal, Roger has been a very vocal champion of independent films,” said IFP executive director Michelle Bryd.

“Nothing has given me greater pleasure on the job than discovering a wonderful film by a new director,” Ebert said. “Independent films are the port of entry for the great filmmakers of the future.”

Ebert will be joined by other Gotham Award receipients New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, actor Javier Bardem and director Mira Nair.

The recent 43th Chicago International Film Festival was dedicated to the Sun-Times film critic.

WRITER/PRODUCER/DIRECTOR PEMON RAMI and his partner, writer/attress/director Masaqua Myer, was honored Oct. 29 by the 7th Annual Black Excellence Awards and Gala.

They will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award for more than 30 years pf distinguished work in film, television and theatre.

Rami produced the Robert Townsend indie film “Of Boys and Men” that filmed here last summer.

COSTUME DESIGNER MICHAEL STEIN jets to the exotic Dominican Republic and flashy Miami to provide modern day costumes for Robin Givens who stars in the indie feature “Haitian Night,” with Sheryl Lee Ralph, who was in the original “Dreamgirls” cast on Broadway. Marc Cayce (“Forbidden Fruit”) directs.

PRODUCER/DIRECTOR MARIA FINITZO is the winner of CIFF’s Chicago Award for her documentary, “Terra Incognita: Exploring the World of Stem Cell Research,” made in conjunction with Kartemquin.

Finitzo has a feature doc in development, “The One and the Many,” focusing on a microcosm of world religions in Flushing, Queens, New York, the most ethnically diverse county in the U.S.

HERE’S A REEL DEAL. Get free tickets to the screening of Jeff Garlin’s “I Want Someone to eat Cheese With” at the Nov. 6 Midwest Independent Film Festival by going to www.midwestfilm.com.

AND HERE’S ANOTHER. For a mere $15 aspiring screenwriters can learn about the craft, art and business of screenwriting from Paul Peditto, one of Chicago’s best teachers. He’s also a Jeff Award-winning playwright and filmmaker.

The Chicago Filipino American Film Festival and “7? Cinema at the Chopin Theatre” host the workshop Nov. 10 at the Chopin Theatre.

See the Reel’s Datebook for an staggering number of upcoming screenings and events.

JIM BELUSHI speaks Nov. 7 at the Chicago Historical Museum as part of its “Chicago Treasures” series.

The original engagement was set for 10 days earlier, but was pushed back due to the accelerated shooting schedule of his “What about Jim” TV series in preparation for the looming writers’ strike.

NAME DROPPING. Emmy winning editor Mark Jepsen has joined Cutters. Jepsen, whose work has tended towards the comedic, had been an editor/partner at Machete Edit & Design and earlier, he was on staff at Swell … Sound designer and mixer Dave Kaduk joined Particle, a division of Comma Music. He was most recently an audio engineer at Element 79 and got his start at CRC ?

Tim Austin and Anthony Massa were named to the newly created positions of co-chief creative officers at TPN/Chicago. Austin spent 16 years at PTN and Massa was previously COO of Euro RSCG, Dallas ? Producer Al Rasho’s Roxie Media has moved to the Fine Arts Building at 410 S. Michigan.

MORE CONDOS in the future of the Sangamon St. Building in River West? We hear the new landlord is not terribly excited about the idea of movie company tenants with those short-term leases. Movie companies have consistently filled those floors since Orbis sold the building three years ago.