A new music documentary entitled Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), which tells the story of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival as directed by musician/author/late-night television bandleader Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, has won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award in the documentary category at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Confirmed by the festival via Twitter on Tuesday, the award-winning film which premiered during the famous Utah film festival tells the story of the six-day concert series that took place in Mount Morris Park in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City in 1969. Amazingly, the film includes long-lost video footage of now-legendary performances from Stevie Wonder, The Staple Singers, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone, and more.
“It has always been a dream of mine to direct films and telling this story has truly been an amazing experience,” Questlove said in a statement on the film’s accomplishment. “I am overwhelmed and honored by the reception the film is receiving and want to give special thanks to Sundance, and my production partners: Radical Media, Vulcan Productions, Concordia, Play/Action Pictures and LarryBilly Productions.”
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson on SUMMER OF SOUL
[Video: Sundance Institute]
The Harlem Cultural Festival took place during the same mythical summer as Woodstock (three months prior, actually), and also drew over 300,000 attendees, yet its place in history is far less prominent. In fact, one could make the argument that the landmark Harlem event—often referred to as “Black Woodstock”— is overlooked entirely in discussions of the 1960’s counterculture events, likely due to the lack of prominent footage captured at the event.
Thankfully, cameraman Hal Tulchin was on site to capture over 40 hours of footage over the six-day gathering. After being locked away in storage for nearly 50 years, Questlove and his team re-earthed the never-before-seen footage as the core content for the documentary, along with interviews with attendees and participants of the long-forgotten happening.
wowowoeowowoeororocokmjust n mxkekwkjwbrmtglglxkwnwnwwnnnnnzhzkqlqoqoqoqqo!!!!!!!!!)!!!!!!!!!!!!!! https://t.co/uPNJX3tOEM
— Director ?uestlove (@questlove) February 3, 2021