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 film is aptly titles Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised).
Here’s a statement from Tara Duncan, President Freeform and Onyx Collective on the film’s nomination:
“Thank you to the Academy for recognizing Ahmir’s singular directorial debut and the tireless work of the filmmaking team to bring the Harlem Cultural Festival out of the shadows and to the forefront.
It is incredibly gratifying for Summer of Soul and The Harlem Cultural Festival to not only be known, but to be recognized and celebrated. I had no idea the Harlem Cultural Festival ever happened and to see the gorgeous footage of a sea of Black faces smiling, singing, dancing and having a good time, I knew this was something special, and something missing in the landscape that would resonate not just for a Black audience, but for a global audience.
The significance of this film can’t be overstated – for all of us who lived through 2020, being isolated in quarantine, experiencing social unrest, questioning what’s happening in our country, to see a film that highlights the joy, pride, artistry and resilience of Black people and how Black people come together to heal themselves and our culture at large, was literally a manual for how to survive the pandemic. For us at Onyx Collective, Summer of Soul was affirmation that our brand is also right on time to bring culturally specific stories to a global audience.
We are overjoyed for Ahmir and humbled that the bar has been set so high for our burgeoning brand.”
And below a tweet from Questlove himself:
Here is an official statement from Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson:
“It is a huge honor to receive this nomination. The Harlem Cultural Festival was both a testament to Black genius and Black joy at a formative time in our country’s history, and a cautionary tale about the way that history, especially Black history, can be erased. Being entrusted with the responsibility of keeping that past visible has been one of the great honors of my life. I am beyond gratified to be nominated alongside these four other incredible filmmakers. Congratulations to the entire filmmaking team and everyone at Searchlight, Onyx, and Hulu.”
We spoke to Questlove earlier last year about his film on the Black Girl Nerds podcast. Feel free to listen in on his process of creating the documentary and what the film meant to him.