Chaz Ebert to host panel about empathy in filmmaking at Cannes Film Festival

May 14, 2015, 22:36 ET from The Ebert Company

CANNES, France, May 14, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Roger Ebert's oft-quoted line about how movies are "a machine that generates empathy" will be the topic of a panel at the Cannes Film Festival this Sunday at 3 p.m. in the American Pavilion. Chaz Ebert, publisher of, will join a panel of industry professionals for "What Does Empathy Look Like On the Big Screen?" And, fittingly, it is being held in the Roger Ebert Conference Center in the American Pavilion.

The panel will be moderated by Nate Kohn, vice president of the Peabody Awards and festival director of Ebertfest. Ebert also will welcome confirmed panelists John Sloss, founder of Cinetic Media; Cameron Bailey, artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival; Anne Thompson of Indiewire and Thompson on Hollywood; and invited panelist Jeff Skoll, of Participant Media for a robust discussion about why empathy should be encouraged in the works of emerging writers and filmmakers.

Panelists will explore topics such as empathy's place in the sea change in the production and distribution of films, how increasing the number of women at all levels in the film industry will affect empathy in film, and its impact on film criticism and influence on society as a whole. 

"Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another," Chaz Ebert said. "It is the antidote to the feelings of isolation and insecurity which can result in all kinds of ills in our society. Not only is it good for the bottom line (audiences hunger for films with characters they can relate to, and with themes that touch on hope rather than mere despair and destruction), but it can lead to a change in the conversations about our future." 

Sloss has facilitated the sale and/or financing of well over 400 films, including Richard Linklater's Boyhood and Before Midnight; Ethan Hawke's Seymour: An Introduction; Steve James' Hoop Dreams; and Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris' Little Miss Sunshine.

Bailey's choices of films at the Toronto International Film Festival often reflect values such as empathy and compassion. And he acknowledges that some of those films are frequently the most entertaining.

Thompson has advocated for better films, but notes that a touch of humanity can be found even in action films. Kohn has said that empathy, as a cinematic construct done well, is one of the strongest, most compelling ways to connect with an audience. 

Jeff Skoll's Participant Media has been a leader in changing the conversation about how film can make a difference. His company's films include Laura Poitras's Oscar-winning documentary, "Citizenfour," George Clooney's "Good Night and Good Luck," Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," Ava DuVernay's "Middle of Nowhere," Niki Caro's "North Country" and Errol Morris's "The Unknown Known."

Ebert recently announced with the University of Illinois the creation of the Roger Ebert Center in the College of Media. Its core mission is to challenge writers and filmmakers to craft more humanitarian films and tell stories that matter. 

For more info, visit the official American Pavilion website.

Media contact: Robin Beaman | | 312-751-9689.


SOURCE The Ebert Company