In the summer of 69 a festival that celebrated black love, black culture, black music, and black pride took place in Harlem. The Harlem Cultural Festival was an epic concert series but unless you were there it’s likely you didn’t have any knowledge of the event. The event was filmed but the footage wasn’t released and so it sat collecting dust for 50 years. Thankfully Questlove (the film’s director) and producer Robert Fyvolent came together to bring the footage to light. I went to an early screening on Monday. I had a smile on my face the entire movie!
The music is absolutely fantastic. I was grooving in my seat watching performances from Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, The 5th Dimension, and Gladys Knight. That’s just to name a few. This festival wasn’t just about music. The 60s was a tumultuous decade and in the face of gross injustice, disparity and police brutality black people came together to celebrate themselves and it was beautiful. Seeing the sea of black faces and afros made my heart warm. Several of the performers are still alive so to hear their accounts and see the looks on their faces as they watched the footage was touching. I felt the love! I could be here for a long time talking about this film and how amazing it was from a historical standpoint and also a cultural one but I don’t need to. The film speaks for itself. I HIGHLY recommend that you give it a watch. It’s quite a gem! I planned on watching again on Hulu (it starts streaming tomorrow) but I found out that AMC Theatres is showing Summer of Soul in Dolby Cinema. The music is worth seeing it in that format!! I’m looking forward to a second view.
Check my live review here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CQr9CZdHH4O/