How "Summer Of Soul": A Questlove Jawn Came To Be

Questlove has brought the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival to the big screen after nearly 50+ years of being overlooked. An event that has been called "Black Woodstock" that was overshadowed by the likes of the actual iconic Woodstock concert has never been brought to the forefront of mainstream attention until now. Making his directorial debut with the film, Questlove has been attached to this project since early 2019 when he was originally approached by two producers who claimed that had 45 minutes of footage from the festival. The footage according to Pitchfork had been shot and then left in a basement for the past 50 years.

Making its original premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, "Summer Of Soul" received high critical appraise and was awarded the "U.S. Documentary Competition’s Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award". In a statement after the festival and after receiving the award, Questlove expressed how this moment was so special to him as he always wanted to direct and tell stories that would have an impact on the culture.

“It has always been a dream of mine to direct films and telling this story has truly been an amazing experience. 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.”

With performances from Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Mahalia Jackson, Sly & the Family Stone, the film looks to fill a cultural void and share black stories from the Summer of 1969 that were overlooked and quite literally shelved for 50 years.

In a New York Times interview, Questlove explained how the making of this film changed him and helped him find his purpose in life,

"More than anything, it helped me really come to grips with what my role and my purpose in life is, as an educator. And it really helped me in the confidence department. Now I’m ready to take on the world."

Catch "Summer of Soul" in theaters now or at home on Hulu!

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