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Documentary Filmmaker Steve James

James Gray interviews Steve James, producer and director of documentaries that include the award-winning Hoop Dreams and Stevie.

Steve James in flannel shirt

Photo: Adam Schwartz/WFIU

Steve James

When I first got to Chicago, I was the oldest, most educated production assistant on TV commercials. I had a master’s in film. I started at the bottom, sweeping sets and stocking coolers.

Steve James’s films often deal with issues of race and sports. He directed the 1997 feature film Prefontaine and the TV movies Passing Glory and Joe and Max. His documentary Head Games follows football player and wrestler Chris Nowinski’s quest to uncover the truth about the consequences of sports-related head injuries. His latest documentary, Life Itself, depicts the life and death of film critic Roger Ebert.

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