Life Itself
Doc Premieres


2014, 112 minutes, color, U.S.A.

The purpose of civilization and growth is to be able to reach out and empathize with other people…For me the movies are like a machine that generates empathy.
— Roger Ebert

In 2013, we lost Roger Ebert—arguably the nation’s best-known and most influential movie critic. Based on his memoir of the same name, Life Itself recounts Ebert’s fascinating and flawed journey—from politicized school newspaperman, to Chicago Sun-Times movie critic, to Pulitzer Prize winner, to television household name, to the miracle of finding love at 50, and finally his “third act” as a major voice on the Internet when he could no longer physically speak.

Filmmaker Steve James masterfully uncovers the snags and strains hidden under Ebert’s prominence, including his battle with alcohol; his ongoing, sometimes ruthless, conflict with fellow critic Gene Siskel; and scorching debates among film critics about whether their television show reduced criticism to “consumer advice.” Ebert bridged high and low culture, defending film as a populist medium even as he championed films that challenged mainstream aesthetics and expectations. Insisting on bare honesty, Life Itself is as much a love letter to Ebert as it is an expression of Ebert’s own love—for his family, humanity in general, and, of course, the movies.

Director: Steve James

Executive Producers: Martin Scorsese, Steven Zaillian, Michael W. Ferro Jr, Gordon Quinn, Justine Nagan, Kat White, Mark Mitten, CNN Films: Vinnie Malhotra, Amy Entelis

Producers: Zak Piper, Steve James, Garrett Basch

Co-producers: Emily Hart, Josh Schollmeyer

Cinematographer: Dana Kupper

Editor: David E. Simpson

Composer: Joshua Abrams

About the Director

Steve James's affiliation with Kartemquin Films began in 1987 with the start of production of Hoop Dreams, for which he served as director, producer, and coeditor. The film won the documentary Audience Award at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival and was named one of the best documentaries of the 1990s. He has since become one of the most acclaimed documentary filmmakers of his generation; his notable films include Stevie (2002), The New Americans (2004), The War Tapes (2006), At the Death House Door (2008), and The Interrupters (2011).


1/19/2014 5:15 pm
The MARC, Park City
1/20/2014 1:00 pm
Redstone Cinema 2, Park City
1/23/2014 9:00 pm
Sundance Resort Screening Room, Sundance Resort
1/24/2014 9:00 am
Temple Theatre, Park City
1/25/2014 9:15 pm
Tower Theatre, SLC