Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, the drummer for The Roots, made his feature directorial debut with Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised), a documentary about a nearly-forgotten music festival held in Harlem in 1969. The movie was selected as one of the opening night films of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and after earning an incredible amount of buzz there, it has now been picked up by Searchlight Pictures.
The company has acquired the worldwide rights to the acclaimed film, which just pulled off the impressive feat of winning both the U.S. Grand Jury Prize for Documentary and the Audience Award for Documentary at Sundance. Summer of Soul will be released theatrically, but it will also be available to stream on Hulu in the United States and internationally on Star and Star+.
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Today, the Golden Globe nominations were announced, and the results were pretty bad! So perhaps we should try to cleanse our palates with the 2021 Sundance Film Festival awards. This year’s Sundance was virtual, and while that experience can’t hold a candle to being on the ground in Park City, the festival organizers deserver lots of credit for putting the fest together in any capacity and running it smoothly. While I found a lot of the films I saw this year to be lacking, there were still plenty of noteworthy titles. Lots of attention was paid to Coda, a film that went over big when it opened the fest. The same goes for another opening night film: Summer of Soul, a documentary from Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson.
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The 1969 Woodstock music festival, which featured performances by artists like Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, and The Who, seared its way into the public consciousness almost immediately and became an almost mythical touchstone for the anti-establishment movement of the 1960s.
But that same summer, 100 miles away, the Harlem Cultural Festival – which would later be nicknamed “Black Woodstock” – featured an equally incredible lineup of Black musicians and performers. Even though it was filmed by a professional crew, the footage was never picked up by a film distributor or broadcast network, so it sat in a basement for 50 years. Thankfully, though, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots has exhumed it and used this amazing archive as the backbone of his feature directorial debut, a documentary called Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised). Read More »