Monday, January 19, 2015

Hollywood idiotically snubs acclaimed documentary bio of man whose life was devoted to cinema

Inexplicably, Academy voters did not even nominate the acclaimed Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself, an appreciative (but clear-eyed) valentine to a life devoted to cinema. How fucked up is that?
     The Oscars are, at the end of the day, a PR exercise for a movie industry which now can't be bothered to recognize an honored biography of a man who championed cinema art via television in ways no previous critics had ever done. What is wrong with these people?
     They did gave Charlie Siskel — the nephew of Ebert's movie reviewing partner, the late Gene Siskel, a best documentary nomination for Finding Vivian Maier, which he co-directed with John Maloof. Said The Hollywood Reporter:
Chaz Ebert, the legendary critic's wife, on her blog site Thursday said she was "sad and disappointed" Life Itself failed to secure a nomination. But she added "a particularly affectionate congratulations" to Charlie Siskel for his Oscar nod for Finding Vivian Maier.
Her gracious statement:
     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.
     What Roger found in his 46 years of championing the movies and in his 71 years of life itself, is that it is not divisions or fear that push us forward, but love. Love in the face of all the unforeseen challenges is the binding force that brings people together, and helps us develop empathy and compassion for each other.
     I congratulate all the nominees in the Documentary category, as I see the documentary filmmakers and the people and issues they bring to our attention as needed heroes in today’s world.  And I send out a particularly affectionate congratulations to Charlie Siskel, Gene Siskel’s nephew, for his nomination for “Finding Vivian Maier.”
     And I express one sadness, that Ava DuVernay was not nominated for her amazing achievement in directing “Selma.” I applaud its inclusion in the Best Picture category.
     Finally, as I reflect on the nominations, I am actually smiling as I know that the person most proud of “Life Itself” has no need for trophies these days. On his deathbed, Roger spoke of visiting this beautiful place where the past, present and future exist simultaneously and where there is a divine oneness that binds us all together, more vastly beautiful than we could ever comprehend. I think he has all the trophies he will ever need.

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