Best Documentary Shortlist Announced; Includes THE ACT OF KILLING, STORIES WE TELL, and 20 FEET FROM STARDOM

by     Posted 303 days ago

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The Academy’s rules for Best Documentary are so arbitrary and asinine that I always hold my breath when it comes to their shortlist.  A list of final nominees is frustrating in any category, but it’s infuriating when a good film doesn’t even get a chance to compete.  Thankfully, there are plenty of good choices among this year’s shortlist.  The films eligible for a Best Documentary Oscar nomination include The Act of Killing (I’d be ballistic if this wasn’t in the running; my review), Cutie and the Boxer, God Loves Uganda, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, Stories We Tell (my review, although the movie didn’t hold up as well on a repeat viewing), and 20 Feet From Stardom (my review).  If you have HBO GO, you can check out Pussy Riot along with other shortlisted docs The Crash Reel, First Cousin Once Removed, and Life According to Sam.  As far as snubs go, I wish Casting By was in the running, but considering that it directly criticizes the Academy for not having an award for casting directors, I’m not surprised by its exclusion.

Hit the jump for the full shortlist.  Nominations for the 86th Academy Awards will be announced on January 16th.

Director Morgan Neville Talks 20 FEET FROM STARDOM, Deciding on His Specific Focus for the Film, the Lengthy Editing Process, and More

by     Posted 1 year, 109 days ago

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The compelling documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, from director Morgan Neville, shines a spotlight on the untold story of the back-up singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century.  Equal parts inspiring and heartbreaking, the film showcases the voices that shaped popular music, but rarely ever got credit for it.  These gifted artists span a range of styles, genres and eras, each with their own unique and fascinating personal story of life spent in the shadows of superstardom.

At the film’s press day, filmmaker Morgan Neville spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about how he got involved with this project, how researching back-up singers has made him listen to music differently now, the structure that he wanted to follow with the documentary, doing 10 months of editing, how the process compared to when he produced Pearl Jam Twenty, deciding which back-up singers to include, and the possibility of him branching out to do a narrative feature, in the future.  Check out what he had to say after the jump.

Judith Hill Talks 20 FEET FROM STARDOM, Her Career, Working with Michael Jackson, Her Experience on THE VOICE, and More

by     Posted 1 year, 112 days ago

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The compelling documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, from director Morgan Neville, shines a spotlight on the untold story of the back-up singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century.  Equal parts inspiring and heartbreaking, the film showcases the voices that shaped popular music, but rarely ever got credit for it.  These gifted artists span a range of styles, genres and eras, each with their own unique and fascinating personal story of life spent in the shadows of superstardom.

At the film’s press day, singer Judith Hill spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about how she came to be a part of this film, what led her to being a back-up singer, how she wrote her first song at the age of four, the first piece of music she had an emotional connection to, her go-to song to sing, the level of nervousness she gets when performing with superstars, how she ended up on Michael Jackson’s highly anticipated “This is It” tour before finding herself singing at his memorial service, her experience on The Voice, and where she’d like to go from here.  Check out what she had to say after the jump.

Trailer and Poster for TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM

by     Posted 1 year, 153 days ago

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One of the best films I saw at Sundance this year was Morgan Neville‘s documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom.  The film focuses on backup singers Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Claudia Lennear, Lisa Fischer, Tata Vega, and Judith Hill.  They have worked with some of the biggest acts of all-time, and now these women finally get the spotlight in a feature that explores music history, race, and fame in an endearing and fascinating tale.  The trailer shows all of that, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg for this must-see movie.

Hit the jump to check out the trailer and poster.  Twenty Feet from Stardom opens June 14th.

Sundance 2013 Wrap-Up: Adam’s Thoughts on Attending the Festival for the First Time, Favorite Films, and More

by     Posted 1 year, 244 days ago

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This year, I was lucky enough to attend the Sundance Film Festival for the very first time.  There are countless fests throughout the year, but Sundance has always been regarded as one of the best since most of the films screen there without any pre-buzz or context whatsoever.  Audiences go in knowing next to nothing about the films they’re getting ready to watch, and 10 days later, buzz has materialized for previously unknown titles that just may become hits like Beasts of the Southern Wild, Little Miss Sunshine, or even Saw.  Sundance has served as the launching pad for a number of filmmakers including Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, David O. Russell, and Steven Soderbergh, and it’s a joy to see what kind of fresh talent is on the horizon.

After a little recuperation from my time in Park City, I’ve written up a few thoughts on my impressions of the festival as a first-timer and my favorite films.  Hit the jump to read on. 

Sundance 2013 Doc Acquisitions: TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM, DIRTY WARS, PUSSY RIOT, THE BITTER BUDDAH, and WILD IN THE STREETS

by     Posted 1 year, 254 days ago

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Several Sundance documentaries found a distribution deal this weekend:

  • Radius-TWC picked up Twenty Feet from Stardom, a documentary about the back up singers to the world’s greatest industry legends.  Read Matt’s review here.
  • Sundance Selects acquired Dirty Wars, which “follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill on an unexpected journey as he chasesdown the truth behind America’s covert wars.”
  • HBO Documentary Films made a deal for Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer, about the feminist band Pussy Riot, who was arrested after they performed a “punk prayer” inside Russia’s main cathedral.
  • Gravitas Ventures picked up two documentaries.  The Bitter Buddah centers on “comic’s comic” Eddie Pepitone and features original animation and interviews with admiring peers like Patton Oswalt, Sarah Silverman, and Zach Galifianakis.  Wild in the Streets chronicles Shrovetide Football, a truly unique 8-hour sports game that two small towns in England compete in each year.  Gravitas also acquired Michael Urie‘s comedy He’s Way More Famous Than You, about a struggling actress who sets out to make a movie that will revitalize her career.

Hit the jump for the press releases with all the details.

Sundance 2013: TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM Review

by     Posted 1 year, 257 days ago

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The title “Twenty Feet from Stardom” implies a missed opportunity at being famous; to be so close and yet so far.  But the business careers of backup singers are by far the least interesting aspect of Morgan Neville‘s documentary.  Where Twenty Feet from Stardom shines is in using the perspective of backup singers to explore music history, race, collaboration, and performance.  Backup singers Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, and Tata Vega share their bittersweet stories of how the business may have kept them down, but that there’s arguably more value in singing as part of a group.  The claim never sounds disingenuous as their passion always rings loud and clear.

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