Ebert Documentary Chronicles Life of Late, Legendary Film Critic

Friday, 23 May 2014 08:13 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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The late Roger Ebert, the iconic film critic who died of cancer last year, is the subject of a new documentary, "Life Itself," which hits theaters July 4.

Slate reported that the movie was directed by Steve James — whose "Hoop Dreams" Ebert once called "the great American documentary" — and features interviews with filmmakers like Werner Herzog, Martin Scorsese, and Errol Morris, as well as Ebert's widow, Chaz Ebert.

"He made it possible for a bigger audience, a wider audience, to appreciate cinema as an art form because he really loved films," Scorsese, the director of "Taxi Driver," "Goodfellas," and "The Departed," says in the film.

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The documentary was shown Tuesday at the Cannes Film Festival, where the audience was treated to an impromptu Q & A session with Chaz Ebert and James while the projector was repaired.

The new trailer highlights Ebert's rise from newspaper columnist to prominent critic and one-half of the famed duo Siskel and Ebert, and also takes care to highlight other professional achievements. He wrote a novel, a dozen non-fiction books, and the screenplay for "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," all of which are discussed.

The film also chronicles Ebert's battle with thyroid cancer that began in 2005, and shows his resolve to keep working throughout treatment, until the illness eventually took his life in April 2013.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Life Itself" originally premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, and, notably, raised $150,000 on crowdfunding site IndieGoGo, which went into the $1 million budget. Its executive producers include Martin Scorsese and Steven Zaillian.

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