Video Services Corp., presents
A film by Steve James
Opens July 11
Toronto – TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W
Montreal – Cinéma du Parc, 3575 Avenue du Parc
Ottawa – Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank St
Opens July 13
Vancouver – RIO Theatre, 1660 East Broadway St.
Opens July 25
London – Hyland Cinema, 240 Wharncliffe Rd S
Waterloo – Princess Cinema, 6 Princess St. W
Victoria – The Vic, 808 Douglas St
Opens August 8
Saskatoon – Roxy Theatre, 320 20th Street West
Opens Sept 12
Winnipeg – Cinematheque – 100 Arthur St.
Official Selection – Cannes Film Festival
Official Selection – Sundance Film Festival
Official Selection – Sheffield Doc/Fest
“Deeply enthralling” – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
“Richly satisfying. Engrossing, unflinching, moving and comprehensive” Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
“Intensely emotional” – Scott Foundas, Variety
“Anyone who cared about Roger Ebert will find it necessary viewing.” – Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
Following successful debuts at both the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals, Life Itself, from acclaimed director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) and executive producers Martin Scorsese (The Departed) and Steven Zaillian (Moneyball) comes to Canadian audiences with a theatrical opening in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa on July 11.
Life Itself recounts the inspiring and entertaining life of world-renowned film critic and social commentator Roger Ebert – a story that is by turns personal, funny, painful, and transcendent. Based on his bestselling memoir of the same name, Life Itself, the film explores the legacy of Roger Ebert’s life, from his Pulitzer Prize-winning film criticism at the Chicago Sun-Times to becoming one of the most influential cultural voices in America.
The filmmakers were granted unprecedented access to Roger and Chaz during the final four months of his life. In that time, they captured Roger’s fighting spirit, his sharp sense of humor, and the ways he directly inspired filmmakers, family and fans. The response to Roger’s unexpected passing in April 2013 was immense and profoundly moving – front page news not just in Chicago, but worldwide. Influential filmmakers and politicians reflected on Roger’s legacy – everyone from Spike Lee and Michael Moore to President Obama, who said, “When he didn’t like a film, he was honest; when he did, he was effusive – capturing the unique power of the movies to take us some place magical.” Roger was an avid supporter of independent film, and an early champion of the work of iconic filmmakers, and Life Itself interview subjects, such as Werner Herzog, Errol Morris and Martin Scorsese.
Roger himself became an iconic force when he joined with Gene Siskel to create one of the longest running, most influential television shows in history, making Chicago the cultural center of film criticism. The film features candid and insightful interviews with many of the principal producers of the show, along with the first ever feature documentary interview with Siskel’s wife, Marlene.
In the wake of Roger’s illness and disability, Roger’s writing grew creatively and in importance – transcending film criticism. Using his blog, and social media, Roger became a must-read commentator, thoughtfully addressing the political and social issues of our time. His public defiance of cancer and the resulting disfigurement literally and symbolically put a new face on the disease, and brought inspiration to countless thousands in the disabled community and beyond.
Despite his “leave of presence,” his body of work stands as a great populist monument, accessible inspiration for the next generations of film lovers. Life Itself gives a definitive document of the flesh and blood man who forever changed what it meant to be at the movies: Roger Ebert.
“Roger made it clear to me on several occasions that he wanted the film to be an honest account of his daily travails, and of his past,” explained director Steve James. “He and Chaz encouraged everyone we wanted to interview to be cooperative and candid. I decided early on that, despite my admiration for him, I really wanted the film to show the flesh and blood man. I really saw the making of this film as my chance to develop a friendship with Roger. That process was happening, but was cut short by his death. I feel his loss personally, along with the legion of fans, colleagues, and admirers who felt like they really knew him and had been touched by him.”
About Video Services Corp.
Founded in 1993 by former rock critic Jonathan Gross, Video Services Corp. (VSC) is a leading independent all platform film distributor with offices in Toronto and Los Angeles. VSC’s DVD catalogue includes “Corner Gas,” Sharknado, “Comedy Now! Starring Russell Peters” and “Spectacle: Elvis Costello With….” Recent theatrical releases include Union Square, with Oscar® winner Mira Sorvino, Alan Partridge, starring Steve Coogan, and the Israeli horror sensation Big Bad Wolves. VSC has an eclectic 2014 slate that features Cannes Selection Life Itself, Frank starring Michael Fassbender and the horror film Honeymoon. For more information visit www.videoservicescorp.com.