Searchlight Pictures has just released a new trailer for its upcoming documentary, Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised). The film is the directorial debut of Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson.
The film chronicles the Harlem Cultural Festival, a six-week-long concert series in New York City’s Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park) in 1969. Known by many as “Black Woodstock,” the festival has received much less attention than that other summer of ’69 concert, though it featured huge names in Black music including Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & The Family Stone, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, The 5th Dimension, and countless others. The film combines never-before-seen footage of the festival, along with interviews of performers and concertgoers, detailing the cultural significance of the event. “Something very important was happening,” Knight explains in the trailer. “It wasn’t just about the music.”
Though Questlove is best known as the drummer of The Roots and the music director of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, this is far from his first foray into documentary film. He has previously appeared in Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest, Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown, and Finding the Funk, for which he was also a co-executive producer. And he seems to be just as adept in the director’s chair as he is behind a drumset — the film won the grand jury prize and the audience award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
It’s been an exciting year for Questlove, who served as music director and in-house DJ for the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony (where the film’s first trailer debuted). The Grammy award-winner also has a new book, Music is History, due out in October. A film about music history, particularly an event so unsung, seems like the perfect fit for his interests.
There’s a lot to love in the new trailer, from astonishing concert footage to up-close and personal interviews with some true music legends. If the film can maintain even a fraction of the energy of the trailer, it’ll be an absolute must-watch, and that shouldn’t be hard with the marquee the trailer boasts. Of course, the less-celebratory element of how an event like this could be so neglected by historians is sure to be explored, as well, though should prove to be every bit as fascinating.
Summer of Soul arrives in theaters and on Hulu on July 2. Check out the new trailer below.