Summer of Soul

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson has been awarded the U.S. Documentary Competition Grand Jury Prize and Audience Awards at Sundance Film Festival 2021. Questlove, who is better known as a founding member of hip hop band The Roots, made his directorial debut at this year’s competition with ‘Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)’.

‘Summer of Soul’ — originally titled ‘Black Woodstock’ — documents the legendary 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, a series of concerts at Harlem’s Mount Morris Park celebrating African American music and culture. Taking place just a year after the assassination of Martin Luther King, the festival drew hundreds of thousands of revellers — with performances from Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone and Stevie Wonder among the highlights.


“The performances are extraordinary,” Questlove claimed in a statement released for the film’s premiere, before going on to describe how he was stunned to discover footage of the festival which had lain unseen in a basement for half a century. “It’s incredible to look at 50 years of history that’s never been told, and I’m eager and humbled to tell that story.”

‘Summer of Love’ joins a host of prestigious features previously awarded the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. These include 1989’s ‘For All Mankind’, comprised of footage from NASA’s Apollo program and scored by Brian Eno, 2003’s Academy Award-winning true-crime study ‘Capturing the Friedmans’, and 2005 political investigation ‘Why We Fight’.