In his acclaimed debut as a filmmaker, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson presents a powerful and transporting documentary — part music film and 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 100 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, Ray Baretto, Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach, and more.
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival
“Magnetic in premise alone… Throughout the film, Questlove deconstructs the sterility of a typical talking heads documentary. The inclusion of interviews isn’t to incorporate some sense of detached expertise. When faces do remain in focus, it’s to highlight the width of their grins, the tears in their eyes, their open mouths while watching the footage, their shock that someone else finally remembers.” —Selome Hailu, Austin Chronicle “Seething through the entire documentary, against the backdrop of a racially turbulent 1960s, is an insistence on a new kind of racial pride and unity across the diaspora, which infuses SUMMER with an honesty and realism.” —Tambay Obenson, IndieWire “This sizzling concert film is a resurrected piece of power-to-the-people art, featuring dizzyingly rich footage from 1969’s Harlem Cultural Festival that has been sitting in a basement for more than five decades. In his stunning directorial debut, the multi-hyphenate artist and living music legend Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson not only puts a year of seismic shifts and the summer of Woodstock in renewed historical perspective by shifting the focus to another comparatively underappreciated event, but also reclaims a forgotten piece of Black culture with aching timeliness.” —Tomris Laffly, Harper's Bazaar