If you’re kicking off a festival of any kind, you want a film that rouses the audience and really sets an energetic, upbeat tone. That’s what Amir “Questlove” Thompson’s doc Summer of Soul did earlier this year at Sundance, taking viewers back to a time and place many never knew existed: the 1969 Harlem Music Festival, better known as Black Woodstock.
The film features incredible never-before-seen footage of R&B, funk, and soul icons including Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, and The 5th Dimension.
Longtime fans of Questlove can see why he’d want this to be his directorial debut, as he’s always been a purveyor of music knowledge and this is a moment in history that deserves to be acknowledged. That’s what makes Summer of Soul so extraordinary, that it literally had to be unearthed from a dusty basement for this movie to exist.
Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not be Televised) hits theaters and Hulu on July 2nd.
In his acclaimed debut as a filmmaker, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson presents a powerful and transporting documentary—part music film, part historical record created around an epic event that celebrated Black history, culture, and fashion. Over the course of six weeks in the summer of 1969, just one hundred miles south of Woodstock, The Harlem Cultural Festival was filmed in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park). The footage was never seen and largely forgotten–until now. “Summer Of Soul” shines a light on the importance of history to our spiritual well-being and stands as a testament to the healing power of music during times of unrest, both past, and present.
“Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not be Televised),” is the first official project under the recently announced Onyx Collective brand. The winner of both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance Film Festival will be released theatrically by Searchlight Pictures and will begin streaming on Hulu in the U.S. on July 2, 2021. The film will also stream internationally through the Star offering on Disney+ on a date to be confirmed.