Oscars 2014: ’20 Feet From Stardom’ wins for documentary

Oscars 2014: ’20 Feet From Stardom’ wins for documentary
From left, singers Judith Hill, Merry Clayton, Darlene Love and Lisa Fischer pose for a portrait in Pasadena, where they were performing the national anthem at the Rose Bowl football game. The four women are backup singers featured in the documentary film “20 Feet From Stardom.”
(Dan Steinberg / Invision)

“20 Feet From Stardom,” the inspiring chronicle of the lives and travails of backup singers, on Sunday won the Oscar for documentary feature.

The award in the category  goes to director Morgan Neville and producers Gil Friesen and Caitrin Rogers. “20 Feet From Stardom” grew from an idea by Friesen, a veteran music executive who enlisted Neville to direct. Friesen died from complications of leukemia shortly before the film premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.


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Among the films “20 Feet From Stardom” beat in this category:


“The Act of Killing” was a head-spinning phantasmagoria that managed to combine an investigation into Indonesian genocide with fantasy sequences and a consideration of the power of cinema itself. Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer and produced by Signe Byrge Sorensen, it had garnered awards and criticism for its examination of mass killing in Indonesia in the late 1960s. The filmmakers allowed men involved in those acts to re-enact their crimes, creating a horrifying look into some of the darkest corners of the human soul.

“Dirty Wars,” directed by Richard Rowley and produced by investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, follows Scahill as he travels the globe looking into covert military organizations and operations.

“Cutie and the Boxer,” directed by Zachary Heinzerling and produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher, chronicles artists Ushio Shinohara and Noriko Shinohara. Their stormy 40-year marriage is pushed to new limits when Noriko sees a surge in acclaim for her work.

“The Square” chronicles recent uprisings that led to the overthrow of the Egyptian government. With remarkable access, director Jehane Noujaim and producer Karim Amer seem to be capturing on-the-ground revolution in real time.



Oscars 2014: Documentaries illustrate a diversity of styles

‘20 Feet From Stardom’ moves spotlight to the background

In ‘Act of Killing’ a shocking look at mass murder


Follow Mark Olsen on Twitter: @IndieFocus


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