GFF 2014: 20 Feet from Stardom (Morgan Neville, 2013)


Rarely does a documentary let you be both in awe of and feel pity for its protagonists. In 20 Feet from Stardom, director Morgan Neville does just that. While at some points these men and women make you want to stand on your cinema seat and sing to the heavens, he has a great ability to truly make you realise what life has been like for them.

They stand ever so slightly to the back of the stage, their voices filling records and auditoriums but never truly being the one with all the attention. They are the backing singers of today and of history, brought stunningly to the forefront in this rather rambunctious documentary.

Regardless, 20 Feet from Stardom is a glitzy, powerful affair in giving an in-depth look into the world of backup singers. Focusing on the most famous women and men over the years from Darlene Love to The Waters, it backs up the voice with some fond memories of the past, featuring interviews with Stevie Wonder and Mick Jagger to name a few.

It does something that a lot of documentaries fail to do: inform. Incorporating stock footage from the past that will be nostalgic to many, it also delves into the current lives of some of music’s most forgotten voices.

20 Feet from Stardom is a rushing, sass-filled affair that is impossible not to love. Get on top of your seats, ladies and gentleman: you’re in for a real treat here!

20 Feet from Stardom has its UK release on March 28th

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