“20 Feet from Stardom” takes Oscar crown

Morgan Neville's 20 Feet From Stardom (pictured) picked up the Best Documentary Feature prize at the 86th Academy Awards in Los Angeles tonight (March 2).
March 2, 2014

Morgan Neville’s 20 Feet From Stardom (pictured) picked up the Best Documentary Feature prize at the 86th Academy Awards in Los Angeles tonight (March 2).

The film, which looks at lives and careers of back-up singers such as Darlene Love, Merry Clayton and Lisa Fischer, beat The Square, The Act of Killing, Dirty Wars and Cutie and the Boxer to take the Oscar.

In addition to earning statuettes for producer Caitrin Rogers and director Neville, the victory also brought a posthumous Academy Award to producer Gil Friesen, the former chairman of A&M Records, who passed away in December 2012, a month before the film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

Talking to realscreen in January 2013, prior to the film’s world premiere, Neville explained his motivation in making the doc.

“What shocked me was that nobody had done anything on back-up singers. There are no books, websites, nothing,” he said. “It was this invisible art and all it took was opening a door into the back-up world and suddenly we were immersed in these people’s lives.”

Meanwhile, the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short went to The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life, which looks at life of Holocaust survivor and pianist Alice Herz-Sommer, who passed away a week ago, at the age of 110.

The 38-minute film, directed by Malcolm Clarke and produced by Nicholas Reed, beat CaveDiggerFacing FearKarama Has No Walls and Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall to take the prize.

The victory delivered a first Oscar to digital platform Netflix, which acquired the doc a day after Herz-Sommer passed away.

About The Author
Andrew Tracy joined Realscreen as associate editor in 2021, following 17 years as managing editor of the award-winning international film magazine Cinema Scope. From 2010 to 2020 he also held the position of senior editor at the Toronto International Film Festival, where he oversaw the flagship publication for the organization’s year-round Cinematheque programming and edited its first original monograph in a decade, Steve Gravestock’s A History of Icelandic Film. He was a scriptwriter and consultant on the first season of the Vice TV series The Vice Guide to Film, and his writing and reporting have been featured in such outlets as Cinema Scope, Reverse Shot, Sight & Sound, Cineaste, Film Comment, MUBI Notebook, POV, and Montage.