20 Feet from Stardom

Synopsis & Film Details

Filmworks presents the American music documentary that New York Magazine says will cause you to “gasp at the ecstatic convergence of lung, power, and spirit.” The film tells the story of several underappreciated female backup singers, whose voices have supported some the most prolific artists in recent history. Filmmaker Morgan Neville places much-deserved emphasis on these talented women, who have worked in the music industry for years, and who are finally able to have their personal stories of hardship, success, and conflict heard. The movie features interviews and commentary from legendary artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder, Bette Midler, and more. Although these world-renowned artists are included, the film showcases the stories of backup singers such as Merry Clayton, who is most recognized for her vocals on the 1969 Rolling Stones hit, “Gimme Shelter,” which, without her explosive voice, would not have been as iconic as it has become. This inspirational movie shows that true talent isn’t always in the spotlight.

Director: Morgan Neville
USA (2013) • 91 minutes • Rated PG-13

Live Performances
Before each screening, vocalist Debi Ruud and friends from The Voice Shop will perform on the terrazzo in front of The Tower Theatre.

Discussion Circle
After the 5:30 p.m. show, join local musicians and educators Benjamin Boone and Mike Dana to talk about the film. Boone, a music professor at Fresno State, is an award-winning composer, saxophonist, and music theorist. He has toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe, most frequently in Germany as a saxophonist with the Transatlantic Reed-String Project. Dana, a jazz studies instructor at Fresno City College, is an award-winning studio guitarist, composer, and producer. He has played studio guitar on hundreds of albums, and he has composed music for the orchestra, chamber ensembles, musical theater, choir, TV commercials, video games, and of course jazz. Moderated by Filmworks board member Mary Husain.

Screening Sponsors
AKA-sorority-300pxAlpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. – Fresno Chapter
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. began in 1908 as the vision of nine college students on the campus of Howard University. The sorority has grown into a union of thousands of college-trained women who are bound by a powerful mystique, a real moving factor in the lives of students in more than 400 institutions of higher learning. As Alpha Kappa Alpha has grown, it has kept in balance two important themes: the importance of the individual and the strength of an organization of women of courage and ability.

The Voice Shop
The Voice Shop, located in the Tower District at 1296 N. Wishon Ave., offers personalized vocal training to kids, adults, and everyone in between. Open since 1998, their contemporary vocal arts studio teachers focus on meeting the needs of individual artists while providing a warm and caring learning environment.

Filmworks thanks K-Jewel 99.3 FM, The Fresno Bee, Vida en el Valle, and Stella Artois for their support.