This past weekend saw the Sundance Film Festival premiere of Life Itself, a doc biopic about the life of Roger Ebert by Hoop Dreams documentarian and native Chicagoan Steve James (a sensitive aside on the Festival’s blog notes, “In his review, Ebert wrote that Hoop Dreams ‘gives us the impression of having touched life itself.’”). The fact that the film was partially crowdfunded should testify to Ebert’s legacy: as one of the most erudite yet approachable critics of the medium. The Chicago Tribune recently ran a long piece on life after Ebert, focusing on his widow, Chaz, and her many projects in development that build off of Ebert’s “brand”—everything from a cartoon series and a film studies center at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign to RogerEbert.com and the long-standing Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, now in its sixteenth year. As the article noted:
“Maybe Roger knew that he was going,” Chaz Ebert says. “Why else would he give me his secret password to his Twitter code or his Facebook code? He had never given those to me before. Why else would he admonish me in the hospital every time I’d visit: ‘You must keep my Twitter account alive. . . .