Life Itself to be closing night film of AFI Docs

The closing night film of AFI Docs 2014 will be our documentary about Roger Ebert, Life Itself, at 7:30pm on June 21st at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.

"Roger loved documentaries and, as a critic, had a profound impact on the success of so many of them over the years. To be honored at one of the very best festivals devoted to the art form would have greatly pleased him," said Life Itself director Steve James, who will attend the screening.

We are delighted to continue our run of films that have screened at AFI Docs (formerly known as Silverdocs), with Life Itself following The Trials of Muhammad Ali in 2013, The Interrupters and A Good Man in 2011, and In the Family in 2008. The full AFI Docs 2014 line-up will be announced on May 21st, and we hope to perhaps have more films included in this year's festival.

Life Itself screens next Monday, May 19th at Cannes Film Festival, with director Steve James, producer Zak Piper, and Chaz Ebert attending. Steve James and Chaz Ebert will also be in conversation with the film programmer Thom Powers at Cannes' American Pavilion at 11am on May 21st.

Magnolia Pictures, who hold international rights for the film, held an industry screening of the film today at Cannes, and we hope to be able to announce international distribution deals soon. Certainly the film moved a few of of the critics and programmers who saw it:

(Loose translation from Dutch: "Almost as powerful as the man himself. An impressive portrait.")

There was perhaps even greater excitement yesterday as American critics visiting the Croisette realized that Roger Ebert's beloved Steak 'n' Shake had - in a pure coincidence, we swear - opened a new outlet in Cannes. We believe Roger would have enjoyed the serendipity.

After Cannes, Life Itself screens at Sheffield Doc/Fest, Documentary Edge, Sydney Film Festival, and Nantucket Film Festival, and will be released in theaters and on video on demand on July 4th. You can follow the film on Facebook and Twitter.