Life Itself

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PrintInternational Arthouse Series

Life Itself

  • 2014
  • Directed By: Steve James
  • Rated Not Rated
  • Documentary
  • 115 Minutes
  1. Thursday, August 7, 2014 7:00 p.m.
  2. Friday, August 8, 2014 7:00 p.m.
  3. Saturday, August 9, 2014 7:00 p.m.
Still image from the film Life Itself
Based on his memoir of the same name, Life Itself recounts the surprising and entertaining life of world-renowned film critic and social commentator Roger Ebert – a story that’s by turns personal, wistful, funny, painful, and transcendent. A centerpiece of the film is the story of how Ebert and Gene Siskel revolutionized film criticism and became the most recognized, criticized, and powerful movie critics in the world.


Part critical biography and personal history, the film’s spine is the last four months of Roger’s life when the filmmakers had exclusive access as he heroically battled – and ultimately failed – to overcome a hip fracture that turned out to be cancer. The film travels through Roger’s life, his own words as our guide, detailing his precocious start in Urbana, Illinois; his migration to Chicago to start a career at the Chicago Sun Times; his unexpected promotion to movie critic; the creation of the television show that would revolutionize film criticism; and his difficult and inspiring fight with cancer.

The film reveals his ribald sense of humor, his passions for politics and justice, as well as Russ Meyer and big-breasted women; his wild days at the legendarily rough and tumble O’Rourke’s Pub; his marriage to Chaz which changed his life; and how he championed and befriended such filmmakers as Errol Morris, Werner Herzog, Ramin Bahrani, Gregory Nava, and Martin Scorsese. (2K DCP presentation)

"A life spent at the movies gets the cinematic epitaph it richly deserves in Life Itself, documentarian Steve James’ meticulous and intensely emotional portrait of the late Roger Ebert." — Scott Foundas, Variety

"A big-hearted, absorbing documentary about a writer who kept on writing until very near the end. Anyone who cared about Roger Ebert will find it necessary viewing." — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

"This is an impressively clear-eyed and deeply moving portrait." — Amber Wilkinson, The Telegraph

"Life Itself is one of the best films at Sundance." — Mike Ryan, Huffington Post