By Sam Adams | Criticwire September 8, 2013 at 4:47PM
Criticwire's been running around like a blog with its head cut off seeing movies at the Toronto International Film Festival, but during a brief pause in the action, we had a chance to look over the festival's opening night tribute to Roger Ebert. While the movie that followed it, The Fifth Estate, wasn't warmly received by critics, the affectionate four-minute clip that preceded it met with no such resistance. In the video, TIFF co-founded Bill Marshall recalls coaxing Ebert out for the festival's second year, and how his support, and his presence "brought the festival to life." I remember coming to the festival for the first time in 1999 and seeing Ebert in the halls of the Varsity Theater, inevitably at the center of a lively discussion (often, of course, dominating it). In recent years, his voice was gone but the crowds were the same, waiting for Roger to scrawl a few well-chosen words on his notepad. Even without him here, he is, as TIFF's former director, Wayne Clarkson says, "an absence that will be a presence at the festival for years to come."