“Life Itself” documentary about Roger Ebert debuts on CNN

Following its successful theatrical exhibition, Steve James’ (Hoop Dreams) documentary Life Itself makes its global television debut on CNN (U.S.) Jan. 4 at 9pm (re-air at 11pm). The film, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, is based on the 2012 memoir of the same title, written by legendary film critic Roger Ebert, and has been honored as Best Documentary by the National Board of Review. It is also in contention for an Oscar in the Best Documentary Feature category.

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According to Steve James, “I owe so much to Roger for his support and critical insights into my work over the years. We tried to make a film that would both capture his legacy and reveal his incredibly rich and surprising life.”

More info on Life Itself from CNN:

“Revelatory about the movies, his childhood, his drinking, his love life, and his renowned rivalry with Chicago Tribune film critic Gene Siskel, a significant portion of Life Itself is told in Ebert’s own voice, both native and synthesized, with frank candor and optimism ­ even as Ebert reckoned with his own mortality from the ravages of cancer.

“‘Her love was like a wind, pushing me back from the grave,’ Roger Ebert says in the documentary about his deep, loving bond with his wife, Chaz Ebert. Both Eberts describe with great candor the origins of their meeting, their frank discussions about their interracial relationship, and the progression of his difficult illness.

“The professional relationship between Ebert and Siskel was complex­ and multilayered. Siskel’s widow, Marlene Iglitzen, and TV producer Thea Flaum tell stories behind the fierce competition between the two that vaulted both film critics to pop culture status.

“Many in the creative film arts whose work he fearlessly reviewed still have tremendous respect and enduring love for Ebert, including director Steve James, whose early documentary Hoop Dreams (1994) was championed by Ebert. As testament, James secured contributions to his film about a film critic, from a wide array of filmmakers­ including interviews with Rahmin Bahrani, Ava DuVernay, Werner Herzog, Errol Morris, Gregory Nava, and Martin Scorsese.”

Life Itself premieres on CNN Jan. 4 at 9pm and 11pm ET.

The film will encore on CNN Jan. 10 at 9pm and 11pm ET.

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Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures