Day of empathy marks 5-year anniversary of Roger Ebert's death

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Roger Ebert died five years ago. (WLS)

Wednesday marks five years since the death of Chicago film critic Roger Ebert, and his widow Chaz Ebert is honoring the anniversary with a day of empathy to keep his memory alive.

Roger Ebert, who changed film criticism with his words in the Chicago Sun-Times and on "Siskel & Ebert" on ABC7, was one of a kind.

"They actually invented TV criticism," said Chaz Ebert. "I don't think they can be duplicated."

Chaz Ebert hopes to sustain her late husband's legacy with a day for empathy in his honor.

Roger Ebert had said that movies can create empathy: "Movies are the most powerful empathy machine of all the arts. When I go to a great movie I can live somebody else's life a little bit, for a while."

"I want people to feel what it's like to be another person so they can have compassion for other people," Chaz Ebert said. "Where is the compassion in today's environment? We need it. And I want to concentrate in Chicago first."

She continued: "His moral compass and his ability to forgive and empathize with people was so deep. How can you not love somebody like that? The deepest love. The deepest, deepest love," Chaz Ebert said.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of Ebertfest, which runs April 18-22. Roger Ebert launched the festival to focus on movies he wanted others to watch. The festival is held at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign, which is where his passion for film began while growing up in Urbana.

This year's special guest is acclaimed director Ava Duvernay, who got inspiration from Roger Ebert when she was a young, aspiring artist.
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