“Life Itself,” the documentary by director Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”), on the life and legacy of the late Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, failed to receive a best documentary nomination today as the list of 2015 Academy Awards was announced live from Los Angeles.
The film, which is based on Ebert’s 2011 bestselling memoir and filmed during the final months of his life (Ebert died in 2013), had previously received a slew of industry awards including best documentary awards from the Chicago Film Critics Association, the Online Film Critics Association, the African-American Film Critics Association, the New York Online Film Critics, the Boston Online Film Critics and the Indiana Film Journalists Association.
Via email, Chaz Ebert said:
“While I am sad and disappointed that “Life Itself” was not nominated for an Academy Award, I take comfort in knowing that anyone who has seen the movie knows what an achievement it is, and what a great job Steve James did in making it. This is a movie for the ages; Roger’s messages about love and living your life with passion no matter what challenges befall you will resonate for a long long time.”
“Life Itself” debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014, went on to several high profile screenings including the Cannes Film Festival this past May.
The films that did receive the best documentary Oscar nomination include: “Citizenfour” (about a reporters meetings with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong); “Finding Vivian Maier” (about the late nanny/photographer whose previously unknown “street photographs” earned her posthumous acclaim); “Last Days in Vietnam” (the Rory Kennedy-directed film about the final days of the fall of Saigon); “The Salt of the Earth” (about photographer Sebastiao Salgado’s 40-year trek across the world documenting history as it happens against the planet’s landscapes) and “Virunga” (about the effort to save the last of the Congo’s mountain gorilla population.)
“Life Itself,” which was shown Jan. 4 and 10 on CNN, drew more than 500,000 viewers for the cable network. CNN will again air the the film at 7 p.m on Jan. 25.
NOTE: “Life Itself” will be released Feb. 17 on Blu-ray and DVD from Magnolia Home Entertainment.