Critic Roger Ebert has released a new statement to the Sun Times today, both about his condition and his plans for the near future. He begins by saying that he has chosen to ignore a lot of advice to not attend his Overlooked Film Festival this year even though he knows the paparazzi will obviously zero in on his new, post-op look. "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn," Ebert says. "As a journalist, I can take it as well as dish it out." He also concedes the obvious -- "I ain't a pretty boy no more. Not that I ever was. The original appeal of 'Siskel & Ebert' was that we didn't look like we belonged on TV." He goes on to note that he is unable to speak, due to an operation to remove a section of his jaw to halt the spread of salivary gland cancer. "A tracheostomy was necessary so, for the time being, I cannot speak," he says. "I make do with written notes and a lot hand-waving and eye-rolling. The doctors now plan an approach that does not involve the risk of unplanned bleeding. If all goes well, my speech will be restored. So when I turn up in Urbana, I will be wearing a gauze bandage around my neck, and my mouth will be seen to droop. So it goes."
The piece goes on, giving more details of his condition and explaining why he insists on traveling to the festival this year inspite of his obvious need for recovery: "Why do I want to go? Above all, to see the movies. Then to meet old friends and great directors and personally thank the loyal audience members who continue to support the festival. At least, not being able to speak, I am spared the need to explain why every film is 'overlooked,' or why I wrote 'Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.'" Long-time readers of Cinematical know that Ebert was an early supporter of our site, and we haven't forgotten it. We continue to wish him a full and quick recovery, and we'll have our own person on the ground at this year's Overlooked Film Festival.