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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Oscars bittersweet for some documentary nominees who've lost subjects, colleagues

EDITORS AND LIBRARIANS PLEASE ELIMINATE THIS IMAGE FROM YOUR SYSTEMS AS PERMISSION FOR THE ASSOCIATED PRESS TO USE THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN WITHDRAWN BY THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER Photo dated July 2010 made available by the makers of the Oscar nominated documentary The Lady in Number 6, in which she tells her story, of Alice Herz-Sommer, believed to be the oldest-known survivor of the Holocaust, who died in London on Sunday morning at the age of 110. Herz-Sommer’s devotion to the piano and to her son sustained her through two years in a Nazi prison camp. (AP Photo/The Lady in Number 6, Bunbury Films)

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EDITORS AND LIBRARIANS PLEASE ELIMINATE THIS IMAGE FROM YOUR SYSTEMS AS PERMISSION FOR THE ASSOCIATED PRESS TO USE THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN WITHDRAWN BY THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER Photo dated July 2010 made available by the makers of the Oscar nominated documentary The Lady in Number 6, in which she tells her story, of Alice Herz-Sommer, believed to be the oldest-known survivor of the Holocaust, who died in London on Sunday morning at the age of 110. Herz-Sommer’s devotion to the piano and to her son sustained her through two years in a Nazi prison camp. (AP Photo/The Lady in Number 6, Bunbury Films)

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - While the Academy Awards are a celebration for most nominees, they're a reminder for some filmmakers of those they've recently lost.

During a Wednesday-night event honouring this year's documentary nominees, "The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life" filmmakers reminisced about Alice Herz-Sommer, the optimistic 110-year-old musician and Holocaust survivor who served as the star of their Oscar-nominated short documentary.

Herz-Sommer, a piano player who was believed to be the oldest-known survivor of the Holocaust, died Sunday at a London hospital.

"We thought she was going to go on forever," said Montreal-based director Malcolm Clarke, who told the crowd at the motion picture academy headquarters he originally didn't want to make a film about Herz-Sommer until he met her and was taken with her charisma.

"The Lady in Number 6" is competing against earth artist portrait "CaveDigger," hate crime account "Facing Fear," Yemeni uprising story "Karama Has No Walls" and prison hospice tale "Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall" for the short documentary trophy at the Academy Awards.

Morgan Neville, director of documentary feature nominee "20 Feet From Stardom," recalled that film producer Gil Friesen originally conceived of the idea of a film about backup singers. Friesen, an entertainment executive who helped to found A&M Records, died in 2012.

"He worked with us right up until a few weeks before we premiered it when he passed away, so this whole experience of the film and how it's been received has been so bittersweet because Gil's not here to enjoy it, and he would've loved every minute of it," said Neville. "Believe me."

The film is up against the battlefield expose "Dirty Wars," Japanese artist portrait "Cutie and the Boxer," Indonesian death squad odyssey "The Act of Killing" and Egyptian revolution recount "The Square."

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Online:

http://www.oscars.com

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang.

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