Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (2021)

Jan 28, 2021 | Documentary, History, Music

Director: Ahmir-Khalib Thompson, Hal Tulchin

Writer(s): N/A

Starring: Stevie Wonder, Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone, B.B. King, Mahalia Jackson, Moms Mabley, Jesse Jackson, David Ruffin, Max Roach, The Staple Singers (Roebuck “Pops” Staples, Mavis Staples, Cleotha Staples, Yvonne Staples), The Chambers Brothers (George Chambers, Lester Chambers, Joe Chambers, Willie Chambers, Brian Keenan), The 5th Dimension (Billy Davis Jr., Florence La Rue, Marilyn McCoo, Lamonte McLemore, Ronald Townson), Sly and the Family Stone (Larry Graham, Freddie Stone, Greg Errico, Sly Stone, Rose Stone, Cynthia Robinson, Jerry Martini), Gladys Knight & The Pips (William Guest, Edward Patten, Merald “Bubba” Knight), Hugh Masekela, John V. Lindsay, The Edwin Hawkins Singers, Herbie Mann, Ray Barretto, Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria, Babatunde Olatunji, George Kirby, Dewey ‘Pigmeat’ Markham

Synopsis: A feature documentary about the Harlem Cultural Festival. Held in 1969, the outdoor festival featured performances from some of the leading black musicians of the day — a group of heavy-hitters that includes Sly and the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, B.B. King, the 5th Dimension, David Ruffin, Mahalia Jackson, the Staple Singers, and Gladys Knight and the Pips. The festival took place one year after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and was intended to celebrate African American culture and politics, as well as to promote black pride and unity.

It unfolded in Harlem’s Mount Morris Park during the same summer that Woodstock captured the attention of the world. Despite drawing over 300,000 people, the Harlem Cultural Festival received virtually no coverage from mainstream media, a staggering omission that Thompson’s film hopes to rectify. “Black Woodstock” will include 40 hours of never-seen-before footage originally shot by late television pioneer Hal Tulchin. It has remained in storage for half a century. The title of the movie is derived from the term that Harlem residents used to describe the festival. READ REVIEW

Release Date: January 28, 2021 (USA) | Length: 117 min | Genre: History, Music | MPAA Rating: Unknown

Note: Original announcement. I think the film was restored but it missed its 2020 release date. Title changed from “Black Woodstock” to “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”. I will have to see the documentary to see if George Kirby and Pigmeat Markham are in the final cut. Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021.