Siskel Film Center Executive Director Emily Long Answers Five Questions with SCREEN

What do Wonder Woman, Antonio Banderas and the inimitable Alex Trebek have in common? They’re all right here as the new Executive Director of the Gene Siskel Film Center, Emily Long, stops by for a thoroughly entertaining round of Five Questions with SCREEN. Let’s get to it!

SCREEN: It’s that time of year, so we have to ask: Best 4th of July Ever?

EMILY: I went to college at University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and stayed there most summers, which was a blast. One year that town put on a particularly great fireworks show; my friends and I were floored! I left feeling very “USA! USA!” which is probably the point of that holiday, outside of all the eating you’re supposed to do as a true American.

SCREEN: If you could be a contestant on any game show or reality show in history, what would it be?

Jeopardy, but we’d need a time machine so I can do it with Alex Trebek. I’m sure I would tank under pressure for even the easiest questions, but I’d love to say I tried. That is, until someone greenlights a crossword puzzle game show, in which case I want to do that one; I’ve been doing crossword puzzles daily since I was a teenager.

Emily, you’ll enjoy this montage of fave Alex Trebek moments…

SCREEN: You’re the indie film expert so we have to ask… What is one indie feature we probably haven’t seen yet that is a must-watch?

EMILY: If you can find it, check out JUST DON’T THINK I’LL SCREAM (2019), a beautiful found-footage documentary by Frank Beauvais about grief, heartbreak, and resilience. I’ve only gotten to see it once the year it came out, but it really stuck with me, and is probably even more resonant since the height of the pandemic.

Here is the trailer for this indie gem…

SCREEN: If you could play any superhero in a major motion picture, who would it be?

EMILY: Wonder Woman. Easy. The things I would do with my own golden lasso of truth!

SCREEN: Most famous person you’ve ever met?

EMILY: When I was working for Film at Lincoln Center, I interacted with a lot of famous people. Everyone was lovely, but it was all part of the job I was doing, and the interactions were business-oriented. I did melt a bit though when Antonio Banderas – sorry, Desperado – said my name and shook my hand.

You’ll appreciate this clip, Emily, where Antonio’s charm is on full display with Conan O’Brien…


SCREEN: What is your favorite restaurant on the planet?

EMILY: I’ve yet to have a bad meal at Chef’s Special. Post up at the bar and get the egg rolls, the dan-dan noodles, the duck confit, or the hand-pulled noodles with oxtail. Sip a Chef’s Old Fashioned or the Bunny Hutch, then cap off the night with some pinball down the street at Logan Hardware.

SCREEN: Worst job ever?

EMILY: One of my first jobs was hauling trash at the U.S. Open golf tournament at Cog Hill. I don’t recommend it. This was back in the late 1990s when everyone still smoked. They didn’t give us brooms to sweep up the cigarette butts, so we had to pick them up by hand, and the golfers would look you right in the face as they tossed their butts on the ground. It was so gross.

SCREEN: What’s inspiring you today?

EMILY: Everyone at the Gene Siskel Film Center! The team there is so talented and committed, and there’s just so much potential for how we can grow. Plus our audience members really believe in the power of film as a shared experience, and in the 35mm format. I feel really at home work-wise, and it drives me to bring my best every day.

Thanks for playing, Emily! Click here to see what Emily and her team have coming up at the Gene Siskel Film Center!

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