Visual Storyteller. AR/VR Experience Designer
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Watson Fellowship

A Tribute to Roger Ebert

I wanted to pay a quick tribute to the man who inspired me to think harder about films. Roger Ebert, whose birthday anniversary was this past week, is the mind directly responsible for the title of my project ‘The Empathy Machine’. He was always able to say what other people were thinking and that was his genius; even if he didn’t look or sound like one, he was a poet. 

We all are born with a certain package. We are who we are: where we were born, who we were born as, how we were raised. We’re kind of stuck inside that person, and the purpose of civilization and growth is to be able to reach out and empathize a little bit with other people. And for me, the movies are like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us.

One the professors I heard speak at the National Film Archive of India—where I spent the last month….more on that soon—described the crux of film viewing succinctly, “It’s easy to understand films, but it’s hard to explain them”. This is where the world needed Roger Ebert. 

If you have a curiosity to know more about Roger, I highly recommend the documentary Life Itself. The film follows him up until his last days as he battles cancer and continues to write movie reviews from his hospital bed. He is missed by many and I know that I am not alone as I remember his birthday, three years after his passing.