How often do we have a first-time director end up winning both the Grand Jury and Audience Award for documentary at the Sundance Film Festival? The list is small and now includes Ahmir Khalib Thompson, known professionally as Questlove with his directorial debut Summer of Soul. If the name rings a bell, it’s probably because you’ve either seen Questlove on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon or happen to be a fan of his band, The Roots.
The Harlem Cultural Festival was a series of music concerts held in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City during the summer of 1969 to celebrate African American music and culture and to promote the continued politics of Black pride and is the backdrop for Summer of Soul.
This Grammy Award-winning artist stepped up the challenge of transforming hours of found footage showcasing The Harlem Cultural Festival into the movie event of the summer. Should any of us be surprised by the critical acclaim that has connected to Summer of Soul? As Questlove mentions in the interview, he’s always striving for excellence in whatever projects he’s attracted to. What I didn’t know about Questlove is how much of a cinephile he was. Just hearing the joy in his voice as talked about his process was invigorating and motivated me to watch the documentary for the 6th time that evening.
Summer of Soul is in theaters now and came be found Hulu as well.