Steve James to direct Roger Ebert documentary

Steve James will direct a documentary based on the life of Roger Ebert, to be executive produced by Steven Zaillian and Martin Scorsese.

As you can imagine, we at Kartemquin are delighted to announce this new production; as was Roger Ebert today on Twitter.

Ebert also told Matt Singer at IndieWIRE: "I believe Steve James' Hoop Dreams is one of the greatest documentaries ever made, and my hopes for this [new documentary] are high."

Steve James himself says: “Roger’s life has so much to say about movies over the last thirty to forty years.  And as his memoir makes so clear, his story is also one of great personal struggle and triumph. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Steve and Marty to tell this poignant and entertaining life story.”

The film is inspired by Ebert's best-selling memoir Life Itself. Ebert played a major role in both Scorsese and James' careers. He was an early champion of Scorsese's directorial debut Who's that Knocking at My Door, and authored the eponymously titled book on the filmmaker. Along with Gene Siskel, Ebert also was the first to champion James' Hoop Dreams.  He eventually named it one of the best films of the 1990s on a show co-hosted with Scorsese, in addition to Scorsese's Goodfellas and the Zaillian-scripted Schindler's List.

Steven Zaillian's Film Rites & Martin Scorsese's Sikelia will be producing companies with Kartemquin, with Garret Basch as Producer.

Kartemquin's executive director Justine Nagan says: "This is a very exciting new project for KTQ and Steve James. We all adore Roger Ebert, and our histories go back to his first year as a film critic, when he reviewed Kartemquin's first film Home for Life (1966) for the Chicago Sun-Times, noting “these filmmakers have the ability to penetrate the souls of the people they depict.”

Roger Ebert also called Hoop Dreams "the great American documentary" after attending our 2009 celebration of the 15th anniversary of the film. We hope to do justice to one of America's greatest lives.


Photo: Hoop Dreams 15th anniversary gala - (l-r) Steve James, Will Gates, Roger Ebert, Arthur Agee, Peter Gilbert, Gordon Quinn.