Life Itself (pictured), director Steve James’ documentary on late film critic Roger Ebert, is headed to the Cannes Film Festival next month with additional footage and an extended running time.
The doc – produced by Kartemquin Films and Film Rites in association with KatLei Productions - will be presented in the festival’s ‘Classics’ section, which highlights new or restored prints, tributes to filmmakers or foreign cinema, and documentaries on filmmaking.
The film will feature a new section on Ebert’s experiences in Cannes, and have a running time of 118 minutes, up from its original 112 minutes.
Ebert attended Cannes for more than 30 years, and also proposed to his wife Chaz there. The festival named a conference center at the American Pavilion after the critic in 2009.
James told RogerEbert.com: “The film’s selection is a thrilling first for me and for Kartemquin. Beyond that, it’s also a statement about what Roger meant to the festival. He loved Cannes and Cannes loved him. We were so inspired by his writing about the festival, that we’ve created a new section in the film devoted to his adventures there over the years.
“Roger was a student of great cinema and of the dreams and spectacle that for him defined Cannes. We can’t wait to share his story and our film with everyone there.”
Though Life Itself will open Chicago’s Ebertfest on Wednesday (April 23), the updated version of the doc will not be screened until its European premiere in Cannes.
Life Itself is based on Ebert’s titular 2011 memoir, and features interviews with his friends, family, colleagues and filmmakers such as Werner Herzog, Ramin Bahrani and Martin Scorsese, who also served as an executive producer on the doc. The film was picked up for distribution by Magnolia Pictures in February, and will be released in theaters and VoD this summer.
In related news, Montreal-based director Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre’s short animated doc Jutra, on Quebec filmmaker Claude Jutra, will play as part of Cannes’ 46th ‘Directors’ Fortnight,’ which showcases avant-garde films from up-and-coming international directors.
The Cannes Film Festival runs from May 14-25.