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Roger Ebert remembered at Phoenix Film Festival

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PHOENIX -

He was an icon in the film industry, best known for his "Two thumbs up" moving rating, and work with Gene Siskel.

As the Phoenix Film Festival gets underway, those in attendance are honoring Roger Ebert.

From newcomers to some of the veterans, they all wanted that thumbs up from Roger Ebert. Here's a look at Ebert's legacy.

"Slightly dampers the fun that we're having, it's a tragedy we feel industry-wide," says Chris Lamont, President of the Phoenix Film Festival.

Lamont met Roger Ebert at the Sundance Film Festival back in 2002.

"Everyone knew who he was he was the first rock star film critic. Everyone got to see him every week, him and Gene Siskel battle it out. That was some people's favorite part, how they would fight about the movies," says Lamont.

"I'll see you at the movies" were the last words he wrote to his readers. They were published in an essay posted on his blog Tuesday.

The Pulitzer Prize winner told fans he was planning to take it easy for a little, cutting back on the number of reviews he wrote.

"It's a really sad day for film lovers everywhere," says James Ponsoldt, director.

Director James Ponsoldt's film "The Spectacular Now" kicked off the Phoenix Film Festival Thursday night. In Ebert's review of it, he wrote, "Here is a lovely film about two high school seniors who look speak and feel like real 18-year-old Middle American human beings."

"Roger Ebert was sort of the grandfather of American film criticism. When you go to Chicago and meet film critics there they sort of worship film critic Roger Ebert. And I think he just taught generations of film goers and filmmakers that you can have an opinion and that you can talk about things and that film criticism can be thoughtful and really entertaining as well," he says.

"Thumbs up from Roger really meant a big deal," says Lamont. "To trust a reviewer you have to know they come from a place of honesty."

In the last year of his career, Ebert wrote more than 300 movie reviews as well as several blog posts and a handful of other articles.

He's survived by his wife of 20 years.

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