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Steve James and Chaz Ebert Discuss Roger Ebert and “Life Itself”

Chaz Ebert and Steve James on candidness, Gene Siskel, and an undying love for movies

Jul 11, 2014

In documenting the life of Roger Ebert, Life Itself leads with an uncommon fade-in on the legendary film critic. We aren’t presented with images of him shaking hands with Fellini, or receiving his Pulitzer, or sitting alongside longtime pal Gene Siskel. Life Itself begins with its subject in a hospital bed, near the end of a long, trying bout with throat cancer. It’s an ordeal that cost him the entirety of his lower jaw and, with it, his ability to speak, leaving a disfigurement so jarring that he would avoid his own reflection. It would be understandable for him to express reticence in allowing access to such candid moments, but it’s an experience Roger specifically asked director Steve James to document. More