(New York, New York--February 5, 2014) Close to 200 people braved the inclement weather to attend the Rooftop Films and Piper-Heidsieck hosted sneak preview of the new documentary, "LIFE ITSELF" at The Paley Center for Media. On hand to see the screening were the late critic’s wife Chaz Ebert, Director Steve James, Actress Yael Stone (ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK), Director Alex Ross Perry, and indie actress Kate Lyn Shiel along with noted film critic A.O. Scott (The New York Times) who conducted a Q&A with Chaz, Steve and filmmaker Rahmin Bahrani. The NYC screening was held hot on the heels of a buzzy showing in Sundance.
Thanks to the snowstorm that pummeled New York City, Filmmaker Steve James and Roger Ebert’s wife Chaz almost missed the NYC premiere of the new documentary, LIFE ITSELF. After sitting on the tarmac for several hours, both Ebert and James landed in the Big Apple just in time to welcome everybody to the screening. One figure who wasn’t as lucky was the wife of Ebert’s critic counterpart, Gene Siskel. Marlene Iglitzen was slated to join but was grounded in Chicago due to the flurries.
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN
At the Rooftop Films and Piper-Heidsieck-presented screening, Chaz Ebert reflected on how much her late husband loved Philip Seymour Hoffman: “Roger said that Philip was one of the best, most versatile actors ever…Roger always said, 'if you ever do a movie where you need someone to play me, I want Philip Seymour Hoffman to do it. At Sundance, people were talking about it…'"
ABOUT THE FILM
At the Q&A conducted after the Rooftop Films and Piper-Heidsieck-sponsored NYC premiere of LIFE ITSELF, Steve James shared that he originally thought “he’d just rip off the memoir,“ but that ultimately, the film isn’t really an adaption of the memoir – it's more of a companion piece. While James leaned very heavily on Roger’s book, he also wanted to be sure to get things that weren’t focused on in the book, particularly his relationship to Gene Siskel which, as the film shows, was often competitive, contentious and challenging.
When asked if she hesitated about allowing the cameras into this very intimate time in her life, Chaz explained, “I think that Steve did a beautiful job with the movie. I’m really glad it exists as a maintenance of Roger’s legacy…We are not reality TV people and didn’t want someone following us around all day every day but we trusted Steve.”