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Sundance opening-night doc 'Twenty Feet From Stardom' aims focus at back-up singers

Published January 16, 2013 12:26 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Legendary A&M Records exec Gil Friesen got the idea for the film that became "Twenty Feet From Stardom" while attending a Leonard Cohen concert with his wife.When the show began, Friesen smoked a joint, then found himself musing about Cohen's talented back-up singers — who they were and what their lives were like.Later, he called it "the most expensive joint I'd ever smoked," as he bank-rolled filmmaker Morgan Neville's documentary that is one of the opening-night films at this year's Sundance Film Festival.Sadly, Frieson died last month on Dec. 13. "Gil was an amazing guy," Neville said in a phone interview. "He was a real gentleman in the music industry. He was the ampersand in A & M music."But amid all of the mourning, there's a lighter note. "He knew that the film had gotten into Sundance, and he was thrilled," said Neville, who was at Sundance in 2011 with "Troubadours," a documentary about the nascent singer-songwriter movement in Southern California in the early 1970s. "His wife, family and friends are coming."

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'Twenty Feet From Stardom' screeningsJan. 17, 9:30 p.m. » Eccles Theatre, 1750 Kearns Blvd., Park CityJan. 18, 9 a.m. » Temple Theatre, Located on Highway 224, Park CityJan. 18, 9 p.m. » Sundance Resort Screening Room, North Fork, Provo Canyon, Sundance ResortJan. 19, 3:30 p.m. » Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. Broadway (300 South), Salt Lake CityJan. 21, 11:45 a.m. » Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., Park CityJan. 25, 8:30 p.m. » The MARC, 1200 Little Kate Road, Park City

— David Burger






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