Why couldn’t they have dubbed the movie?

September 13, 2008

Roger Ebert wasn't giving his signature "Thumbs up" sign of approval, shown above, at a Canadian film festival last week.

For the first time ever in his career, Roger Ebert must be thinking to himself, “Those damn subtitles!” after he was whacked with a binder by a fellow film critic at a screening of a foreign movie during the Toronto Film Festival last week.

Apparently, according to Ebert’s account for his home paper, the Chicago Sun-Times, the venerable Pulitzer Prize-winner couldn’t see over the head of the man in front of him to read the English text because of post-cancer surgery mobility problems. He also can’t speak as a result of the illness, so when tapping the audience member’s shoulder to get his attention, the man, New York Post critic Lou Lumenick swiftly retaliated with a swing of his festival notes.

Why does this incident speak to many sides of communication? Well, for one, it shows Lumenick’s obviously short-fused, intolerant temperament. Journalistically? Well, unless he forgot that most foreign films are subtitled for ease of reading, and that the festival is abundant with critics from across the globe, then Lumenick clearly needs to brush up on a few things. Plus, you don’t just hit Roger Ebert!

The muted-from-cancer Ebert, who has no choice but to defend himself with the power of the pen, put it best himself in his assessment of the theater incident:

“A film critic of all people should be respectful of the sight-lines of fellow audience members.”

Read his account here:



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