Chaz Ebert and Esteemed Panelists Discuss Purpose-Driven Filmmaking at Cannes Film Festival


On Monday, May 20th at 2:00PM CEST Chaz Ebert will be moderating a panel at Roger Ebert Conference Center in the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival. Entitled “Purpose-Driven Filmmaking: Empathy and the Movies,” panelists will discuss the trend toward purpose-driven filmmaking in today’s industry and how that is impacted by the diversity of filmmakers, film genres, and the changes in funding in the filmmaking system. 

How does what we see on screen reflect society, engender empathy, or affect international relations? What is the impact of the absence of companies like Participant Media?

Panel participants include Darrien Gipson, Executive Director of SAGIndie, Jacqueline Coley, Awards Editor at Rotten Tomatoes, Eric Pierson, Professor of Communication Studies at the University of San Diego, and Robert Daniels, Associate Editor at

Immediately following the panel will be a book signing by Chaz Ebert of her new bookIt’s Time To Give a FECK: Elevating Humanity through Forgiveness, Empathy, Compassion and Kindnessat 3:00PM CEST. 

Keep reading to learn more about the moderator and panelists. 


Chaz Ebert is the CEO of Ebert Digital LLC, which publishes the acclaimed movie review site, She is also a producer of movies and television shows. She co-founded the Ebertfest Film Festival at the University of Illinois, with her late husband Roger Ebert. It is now in its 25th year.  Her civic passions include programs to help break the glass ceiling for women and people of color, and to provide education and arts for women, children and families, with a global interest in encouraging empathy, kindness, compassion and forgiveness. Her philanthropic endeavors include providing grants to support films with strong social justice themes, and encouraging emerging writers, filmmakers, and technologists in the arts and sciences. 

Previously as an attorney she was named Lawyer of the Year by the Constitutional Rights Foundation. She was named the 2019 Beethoven Laureate for being “a humanist who promotes justice and a better world through the arts” by the International Beethoven Project. She is a life trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago and serves on the boards of the Lyric Opera, the LA Opera, the Abraham Lincoln Library Foundation, After School Matters, the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, the Honorary Board of Family Focus, and the Advisory Board of Facets Multimedia.


Darrien Michele Gipson is the Executive Director of SAGindie. Darrien leads a team that is responsible for independent filmmaker outreach and specializes in teaching low budget producing, focusing on the process for hiring professional actors via SAG-AFTRA’s low budget contracts. She is a frequent interviewer, moderator, and speaker on panels and production workshops, negotiates sponsorship agreements with film festivals around the country, spearheads the annual national advertising campaigns, oversees and throws several epic filmmaker parties.


Jacqueline Coley is the Awards Editor at Rotten Tomatoes and Host of The Rotten Tomatoes is Wrong Podcast. Prior to joining Rotten Tomatoes, Jacqueline worked as a freelance film journalist and critic, contributing to various publications. As a film journalist, she’s interviewed countless actors and filmmakers and moderated press conferences and panel discussions at prestige film events. Jacqueline’s energetic personality and deep love for film and television has made her a regular commentator on all things entertainment for programs including TODAY, Access Hollywood, CBS This Morning, Entertainment Tonight, New York Live, CNN, BBC, Sky Cinema, Good Day LA, Watch What Happens LIVE and E! where she also serves as the resident film expert on their Live from the Red Carpet awards pre-show.


Eric Pierson is a Professor of Communication Studies at the University of San Diego. He also serves as director of the Interdisciplinary Film Studies program. His work on images and audiences has appeared in Screening Noir, the Encyclopedia of the Great Black Migration, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Watching While Black: Centering the Television of Black Audiences, Documenting the Black Experience and Beyond Blaxploitation. Eric can also be seen in the documentary Infiltrating Hollywood: The Rise and Fall of the Spook Who Sat by The Door. Eric holds two degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a BFA in Fine Arts and a Ph.D. from the Institute for Communications Research.


Robert Daniels is an Associate Editor at Based in Chicago, he is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA) and regularly contributes to the New York Times, IndieWire, and Screen Daily. He has covered film festivals ranging from Cannes to Sundance to Toronto. He has also written for the Criterion Collection, the Los Angeles Times, and Rolling Stone about Black American pop culture and issues of representation.

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