Midwest Members Screen Director Steve James’ Documentary Life Itself

March 18, 2015 A Chicago Coordinating Committee Event

On March 18, the DGA Chicago Coordinating Committee hosted a special screening of Steve James’ documentary Life Itself at the Showplace Icon Theater in Chicago, followed by a Q&A and reception with the director. The film recounts the life and career of renowned film critic, social commentator and 2009 DGA Honorary Life Membership Award recipient Roger Ebert.

Based on Ebert’s memoir of the same name, Life Itself covers his life journey from the University of Illinois to becoming the first film critic ever to win the Pulitzer Prize while working for Chicago Sun Times, then to television where he and Gene Siskel became iconic stars, and finally to what Ebert referred to as “his third act” where he overcame disabilities wrought by cancer to become a major voice on the internet and social media. Director Steve James conducted interviews with over two dozen people, including Ebert’s lifelong friends, professional colleagues, and filmmakers he championed and befriended such as Errol Morris, Werner Herzog, Gregory Nava, and Martin Scorsese, who is one of the film’s executive producers.

Following introductions and a few comments about the work of the Chicago Coordinating Committee by Co-Chairs Jef Kos and John McNaughton, Director Steve James was joined onstage by Ebert’s widow Chaz, for a discussion about the making of Life Itself in a conversation moderated by Director Gordon Quinn (A Good Man) who also served as an executive producer of the film. James previously discussed the making of the film in a conversations with Director Robert B. Weide (Woody Allen: A Documentary) in Los Angeles on October 29, and with Director Alex Gibney (Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown) in New York on November 14.

In addition to Life Itself, James’ work includes the feature film Prefontaine; the movies for television Joe and Max and Passing Glory; the feature length documentaries Head Games and Stevie, the International Documentary Association Award-winning mini-series The New Americans; the Emmy® Award-winning documentary The Interrupters; and the DGA Award-nominated documentary At the Death House Door. His Peabody and DGA Award-winning documentary Hoop Dreams was also selected for the Library of Congress National Film Registry.

James has been a member of the DGA since 1995.

Pictures & Video

photos by Jeff Kash, print courtesy of Magnolia Pictures and CNN Media

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