Life Itself (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steve James|
|Produced by||Zak Piper
|Based on||Life Itself: A Memoir
by Roger Ebert
|Music by||Joshua Abrams|
|Edited by||Steve James
David E. Simpson
|Distributed by||Magnolia Pictures|
Life Itself is a 2014 American biographical documentary film about film critic Roger Ebert, directed by Steve James and produced by Zak Piper, Steve James and Garrett Basch. The film is based on Ebert's 2011 memoir of the same name. It premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was an official selection at the 67th Cannes Film Festival. The 41st Telluride Film Festival hosted a special screening of the film on August 28, 2014. Magnolia Pictures released the film theatrically in the United States and simultaneously via video on demand platforms on July 4, 2014.
On December 2, 2014, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that the film was 1 of 15 films shortlisted in the Documentary Feature category for the 87th Academy Awards, but it was not nominated. As of July 2016, it is currently nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Documentary.
The film makes use of footage and interviews with Roger Ebert during the final months of his life interspersed with interviews of his friends, colleagues, and family including: Chaz Ebert (his wife), Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, Errol Morris, and Ava DuVernay, among others. The film features clips from Ebert's popular television show with Gene Siskel, including outtakes, and their many appearances on shows like The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Late Night with David Letterman. The film also explores the relationship between Siskel and Ebert, Roger's friendship with Russ Meyer and their collaboration on Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, as well as how Roger ultimately came to transcend film criticism to become an influential cultural voice.
On September 7, 2012, a film adaptation of the 2011 memoir Life Itself was first announced by Ebert on Twitter: "Whoa! My memoir has been optioned for a doc by Steve James (Hoop Dreams), with Martin Scorsese and Steven Zaillian as exec producers."
Steve James said: "That’s what made me want to do the movie: the way in which his life had this extraordinary desire for adventure and then, of course, he did his share of suffering and soldiering on. And all of that informed the kind of critic he became. It informed his reviews. It informed everything about who he was and what we came to collectively love about him."
On April 4, 2013, following Ebert's death, the filmmakers expressed their condolences and promised to finish the film. On November 20, 2013, an Indiegogo campaign was launched to raise money for the film. Over $150,000 was raised.
On January 18, 2013, CNN Films announced that it had acquired the rights to air Life Itself on television. It premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Magnolia Pictures released the film theatrically in the US on July 4, 2014. Dogwoof released the film in the UK on November 14, 2014. The film aired on CNN January 4, 2015.
Life Itself has received universal acclaim from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 97% from 185 critics, with an average rating of 8.4/10; the general consensus states: "Rich in detail and warmly affectionate, Life Itself offers a joyful yet poignant tribute to a critical cinematic legacy." On Metacritic, the documentary has a score of 87 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
- "Magnolia Pictures to distribute Life Itself". Kartemquin Films. 4 February 2014. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
- "LIFE ITSELF (15)". British Board of Film Classification. October 22, 2014. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
- "Life Itself (2014)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
- Kit, Borys (April 4, 2013). "Roger Ebert Documentary Filmmakers Vow to Finish Movie". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
- Pavard, Charlotte (May 20, 2014). "CANNES CLASSICS - Life Itself: a critic's life and times". Festival De Cannes.
- Feinberg, Scott (August 31, 2014)."Telluride: A Film Fest That Knows How to Party". The Hollywood Reporter.
- "Life Itself.". VHX. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
- Tallerico, Brian. "Where You Can See 'Life Itself.'". rogerebert.com. 30 June 2014. 20 July 2014.
- "Oscars: Documentary Feature Shortlist At 15". Deadline. December 2, 2014.
- Ebert, Chaz. "'Life Itself' Nominated for ..." Roger Ebert.com. 24 July 2016. 24 July 2016.
- Ebert, Roger. "Twitter / ebertchicago: Whoa! My memoir has been optioned ...". Twitter. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
- "Twitter / EbertDoc: We are devastated. But we will continue. We will ...". Twitter. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
- Lussier, German (April 6, 2013). "Steve James Vows To Finish 'Life Itself,' The Roger Ebert Documentary". SlashFilm.com. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
- Lealos, Shawn S. (April 6, 2013). "Roger Ebert Documentary 'Life Itself' Will be Finished". Renegade Cinama. Retrieved April 27, 2013.
- "Life Itself - A feature documentary based on Roger Ebert's memoir". Indiegogo. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
- "CNN to air Life Itself, our Roger Ebert Doc, in 2014". Kartemquin Films. January 18, 2013. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
- Patten, Dominic (January 18, 2013). "Sundance: CNN Films Makes Buying Debut; Announces Trio Of Documentaries". Deadline.com. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
- Fernandez, Jay A. (January 19, 2013). "CNN Films Acquires Roger Ebert Documentary Exec Produced by Martin Scorsese". Indie Wire. Retrieved April 26, 2013.
- "Strolling Through Roger Ebert's 'Perfect London Walk'". rogerebert. November 14, 2014.
- "Life Itself". MovieMail. MovieMail. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- "Life Itself". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- "Life Itself Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- Ebert, Roger (2011). Life Itself: A Memoir. New York City, NY: Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-4465-8497-5.