Oscar-Nominated Doc Summer Of Soul Will Air On ABC

Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson's Oscar-nominated documentary "Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)" is about to be seen by a lot more people. The film, which is Thompson's directorial debut, is set to air on ABC on February 20 at 8 p.m. EST. (It runs for two hours in case you want to let your kids stay up late just this once.) This is one of those films that you absolutely cannot skip, especially if you're missing live concerts right now, as our Shania Russell recommends. /Film's Ben Pearson also gave "Summer of Soul" a fantastic review back at last year's Sundance Film Festival. 

The film is currently streaming on Hulu and Disney+ in conjunction with Onyx Collective, and was released theatrically by Searchlight Pictures. "Summer of Soul" has gotten a ton of accolades, winning both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival where it premiered. It won all six categories at the Critics Choice Documentary Awards including Best Documentary Feature and Best Director, and 46 awards across critics' groups including the AFI Special Award. It is the first film in Disney's Onyx Collective to nab an Academy Award nomination. 

When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised

"Summer of Soul" is the story of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival at Mount Morris Park, 100 miles south of Woodstock. The festival was several days long, and it was filmed, but the footage wasn't shown outside of a few clips on the news at the time. Thompson went through 40 hours of never-before-seen footage, which included performances from Black music icons like Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone, Mahalia Jackson, Gladys Knight and the Pips, B.B. King, the Staple Singers, David Ruffin, and the 5th Dimension. If you loved "The Beatles: Get Back" (which also featured never-before-seen footage filmed in 1969), then put "Summer of Soul" on your watchlist.

The film also talks about the history of music in Harlem and how the different cultural communities influenced the time and its musical expression. The footage is stunning, and as someone who had never heard about this festival before the documentary, I recommend this as must-see. It not only gives you a real look at a powerful time in music and world history, but it puts it in context with discussion from people like Gladys Knight, Reverend Al Sharpton, Chris Rock, Sheila E, Lin-Manuel Miranda and more. 

Depending on your feelings on Spotify, you can listen to the soundtrack for the documentary right now. It's got music live from the 1969 festival and it's pretty amazing. 

"Summer of Soul" will air on ABC on February 20 at 8 p.m. EST.