Where were you in 1969? If you were in Harlem, chances are you were either in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park) or heard about the Harlem Cultural Festival ~ a summer of free outdoor concerts held on Sunday.
For fifty-years, archived video featuring much of the event with musical artists like Stevie Wonder, B.B. King, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone, Mongo Santamaria, Mahalia Jackson and so many more, sat in a basement, untouched. It was the summer in the wake of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lindsay was Mayor, and taking place during another well-known concert, Woodstock. The concerts took place over six Sundays, and celebrated all kinds of music, spoken word ~ and even a prayer from Rev. Jesse Jackson. This historic event, where over 300,000 people spent their Sundays that summer, became the focus of Roots drummer, Amir ‘Questlove’ Thompson, who was compelled to tell this story as a documentary.
Entitled Summer of Soul (….Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised), the documentary, was created from 40 hours of footage, and made its debut at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews, and awarded the U.S. Documentary Competition’s Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award!
Now, all who didn’t make it to Sundance, have finally received the news of a release date. Searchlight Pictures will release Summer of Soul (….Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) in theaters on July 2, 2021 and on the same day, the documentary will be available to stream on Hulu. The final cut runs 117 minutes. Oh, and by the way, Summer of Soul sold for more than $12 million, which is the largest price tag for a documentary in the festival’s history.