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'20 Feet From Stardom' wins Oscar and Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature

Lisa Fischer in "20 Feet From Stardom"
Lisa Fischer in "20 Feet From Stardom"

On March 2, 2014, "20 Feet From Stardom" won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. The nominations for the 86th Annual Academy Awards were announced on Jan. 16, 2014. The ceremony took place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

In addition, "20 Feet From Stardom" won the prize for Best Documentary at the 29th Annual Film Independent Spirit Awards, which were presented on March 1, 2014, in Santa Monica, Calif.

“20 Feet From Stardom,” directed by Morgan Neville and distributed in the U.S. by RADiUS-TWC, is a movie about backup singers who’ve worked with superstars. Lisa Fischer, who is a longtime backup singer for the Rolling Stones, is one of main people featured in the movie. Also in the film is Merry Clayton, who is best known for her backup vocals on the Rolling Stones classic "Gimme Shelter." Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger is among the stars who were interviewed in the movie.

(Click here for an exclusive interview with Fischer about "20 Feet From Stardom" and touring with the Rolling Stones.)

"20 Feet From Stardom" has been getting rave reviews ever since its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The movie (which opened in limited release in U.S. cinemas on June 14, 2013 and became available on DVD and VOD on Jan. 14, 2014) also features former and current backup singers such as Darlene Love, Tata Vega, Judith Hill, Gloria Jones, Claudia Lennear, Susaye Greene, Dr. Mable John, Lynn Maybry, Cindy Mizelle, the Waters Family, Rose Stone, Jo Lawry and Janice Pendarvis. Some of the other stars providing commentary include Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crow and Sting.

Here were the nominees for Best Documentary Feature at the 86th Annual Academy Awards:

  • "20 Feet From Stardom"
  • "The Act of Killing"
  • "Cutie and the Boxer"
  • "Dirty Wars"
  • "The Square"

Here were the nominees for Best Documentary at the 29th Annual Film Independent Spirit Awards:

  • "20 Feet From Stardom"
  • "After Tiller
  • "Gideon’s Army,"
  • "The Act of Killing
  • "The Square"

Of these nominees, "20 Feet From Stardom" had the biggest gross at the U.S./Canadian box office: $4.9 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The only other documentaries released in 2013 that had higher box-office revenue were "One Direction: This Is Us" ($28.9 million) and Justin Bieber's "Believe" ($6.2 million).

In his Oscar acceptance speech, "20 Feet From Stardom" director/producer Neville said that "20 Feet From Stardom" producer Gil Friesen had predicted that the movie would win an Oscar. Neville remembered telling Friesen, "That will never happen!"

Unfortunately, Friesen died just days before "20 Feet From Stardom" premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. His widow, Janet Friesen. joined Neville, producer Caitrin Rogers and singer Love on stage. "20 Feet From Stardom" singer Love, who said she was representing all the singers in the movie, took the microphone to say an acceptance speech, and then she broke into song and got a standing ovation.

Fischer was not at the Oscar ceremony since she is on tour with the Rolling Stones.

As previously reported, Jagger (through his Jagged Films production company) is producing two spinoff projects for "20 Feet From Stardom": a scripted drama series and a Broadway musical. Jagger did not produce "20 Feet From Stardom," but he is one of the people interviewed in the documentary.

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