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Sundance review: "Twenty Feet From Stardom"

Published January 22, 2013 7:56 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

"Twenty Feet From Stardom"

U.S. Documentary competition

*** (three stars)

Director Morgan Neville celebrates the backup singer, the previously unsung (pardon the pun) heroes of pop music, in this exuberant documentary. Tracing the history of R&B and rock music, from the '60s to today, the film reveals how such singers as Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer and others deepened the music while submerging their own egos to harmonize with the headliners. Archival footage takes us from Ray Charles' Raelettes to David Bowie's "Young Americans" to Michael Jackson's aborted final tour, while Neville's interviews provide commentary from such stars as Sting and Mick Jagger. But it's the stories of the back-up singers themselves — heartbreaking but triumphant — that will have audiences singing this movie's praises.

- Sean P. Means

"Twenty Feet From Stardom" screens again: Friday, 9 a.m., Temple Theatre, Park City; Friday, 9 p.m., Sundance Screening Room, Sundance resort; Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Salt Lake City; Monday, 11:45 a.m., Egyptian Theatre, Park City; Friday, Jan. 25, 8:30 p.m., The MARC Theatre, Park City.