The Official Teaser for Questlove’s “Summer of Soul” Promises Riveting Doc Experience

The multi-talented Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is making his debut as a filmmaker with Summer of Soul, immediately putting the documentary on the must-see list for this summer. The first teaser, which Questlove himself revealed during last night’s Oscars Ceremony (he was the ceremony’s musical director), gives us our first glimpse at his hybrid debut—part historical record, part music film—Summer of Soul is centered on the Harlem Cultural Festival’s six-week run in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park) in Harlem in 1969. The event was filmed, yet that footage has barely circulated since then, until now.

Summer of Soul won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and ended up becoming the largest sale (more than $12 million) for a documentary in the festival’s history. The Harlem Cultural Festival, known as Black Woodstock, boasted some of the biggest names in music at the time. Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, B.B. King, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Sly and the Family Stone, Mahalia Jackson, and a whole lot more. Most of the footage, the teaser reveals, has “sat in a basement for 50 years.” If anyone was going to shepherd that footage from a basement into the limelight, it’s the multihyphenate Questlove. Not only is he the drummer for The Roots, and a music historian, and the musical director for The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, he’s worked across musical genres and with countless superstars, and his forthcoming book, “Music Is History,” speaks to a man who is perfectly positioned to resurrect a nearly forgotten moment in music history.

Summer of Soul (Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) hits theaters and Hulu on July 2. Check out the teaser here.

Here’s the official synopsis from Searchlight Pictures:

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. The feature includes never-before-seen concert performances by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, The 5th Dimension and more.

SUMMER OF SOUL premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. It will stream on Hulu in conjunction with Disney General Entertainment’s BIPOC Creator Initiative; Searchlight Pictures will release it theatrically.

Featured image: Sly Stone performing at the Harlem Cultural Festival in 1969, featured in the documentary SUMMER OF SOUL. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2021 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved


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