Summer of Soul is an Oscar-winning documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival directed by Questlove of the legendary Roots crew.
Over the course of six weeks during the summer of 1969, more than 300,000 people showed up to Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park) to celebrate Black history, music, fashion, and all things black and beautiful.
A who’s who of black soul, funk, and R&B stars performed at the festival including Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, The Staples Singers, B.B. King, David Ruffin, Sly and the Family Stone, and more. The footage of this incredible cultural event was almost lost to the world. It was locked away in vault after the team that filmed it in 1969 couldn’t find a media outlet interested in broadcasting the “Black Woodstock” (hence the film’s subtitle: “Or When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised”).
But once Questlove discovered the footage everything changed. He turned it into something more than footage of incredibly talented black artists doing their thing. 1969 was a pivotal time for Blacks in America, and the country as a whole, and Summer of Soul uses the music to entertain and inspire but also to set the scene for interviewees to discuss everything from the civil rights movement to cultural significance of Harlem itself for Black people.
Summer of Soul premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2021, where it won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. It released theatrically that June to commercial and critical acclaim, eventually winning the Academy ward for Best Documentary Feature. And for it’s unique blending of music and the movement, Summer of Soul is a certified #CultureClassic.
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Written by @TalentedMrFord