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

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

An exhilarating, Oscar-winning concert film and a moving snapshot of post-civil rights Black history

Documentary, Drama, History, Music

best
THE VERY BEST

8.6

movie

United States of America
English
Discussion-sparking, Easy, Feel-Good
2021
Questlove
B. B. King, Chris Rock, Fidel Castro
117 min

Synopsis

rotten tomatoes
imdb
wikipedia
During the same summer as Woodstock, over 300,000 people attended the Harlem Cultural Festival, celebrating African American music and culture, and promoting Black pride and unity. The footage from the festival sat in a basement, unseen for over 50 years, keeping this incredible event in America's history lost — until now.

Our Take

8.6
The Staff

Summer of Soul would already be remarkable if it was just a collection of some of the greatest live performances ever put to film. Boasting a roster that includes Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Gladys Knight, and Sly and the Family Stone, the nearly-forgotten 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival featured in the documentary was an all-star catalog of some of the biggest names in popular music, all at pivotal moments in their careers. Seeing them at the height of their powers, in front of a Black audience that meant so much to them, makes for an unexpectedly emotional experience.

But Summer of Soul also expands beyond the actual concert, using the Harlem Cultural Festival to represent a turning point in Black culture and history, especially after the death of Martin Luther King Jr. Through the film’s pristine, electric editing and gorgeous archival restoration, music becomes a communal act of mourning, a rallying cry to face the uncertain future, and a celebration of a people and a heritage continuing to fight against erasure and persecution.

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