2021 Sundance Docs in Focus: SUMMER OF SOUL (…OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED)

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Mass Distraction Media


SUMMER OF SOUL (…OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED)
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson revisits a long overlooked piece of Black music history.

Festival Section:
US Documentary Competition (Day One film)

Sundance Program Description:

In 1969, during the same summer as Woodstock, a different music festival took place 100 miles away. More than 300,000 people attended the summer concert series known as the Harlem Cultural Festival. It was filmed, but after that summer, the footage sat in a basement for 50 years. It has never been seen. Until now.

Summer Of Soul is a stunning unearthed treasure destined to become a pillar of American music and African American history. In his striking debut as a filmmaker, the legendary musician Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson presents this transporting documentary—part concert film, part historical record—about an epic event that radiated the wholesale reevaluation of Black history, culture, fashion, and music. This rich tapestry deftly incorporates an unforgettable musical revue that includes many rare gems, such as a Stevie Wonder drum solo and a duet between Mahalia Jackson and Mavis Staples. Summer Of Soul shines a light on the importance of history to our spiritual well-being and stands as a testament to the healing power of music.

Some Background:

Director/Executive Producer:
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
Thompson is a multi-Grammy Award-winning musician and author making his feature directorial debut. He previously scored the Sundance doc THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE 1967-1975 (2011).

Producers:
David Dinerstein
Past Sundance docs:
CRIES FROM SYRIA (2017)

President, D² Films. The Emmy-nominated Dinerstein has held executive positions at Paramount Classics, Lakeshore Entertainment, Miramax, and Fox Searchlight, working on the marketing and distribution of numerous past Sundance titles.

Robert Fyvolent
First Sundance credit. Fylovent is an entertainment attorney making his producing debut with this project.

Joseph Patel
First Sundance credit. Patel has held producing positions at Vevo, Fader, Myspace, Vice, and MTV Networks.

Executive Producers:
Jen Isaacson
First Sundance credit. Executive producer, RadicalMedia.

Jon Kamen
Recent past Sundance docs:
SPACESHIP EARTH (2020)
WE ARE FREESTYLE LOVE SUPREME (2020)
TIGERLAND (2019)
ABSTRACT: THE ART OF DESIGN (2017)
WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? (2015)

Chairman/CEO, RadicalMedia. Kamen is a Grammy winner and a multi-Emmy nominee.

Dave Sirulnick
Past Sundance docs:
SPACESHIP EARTH
TIGERLAND

President of Entertainment, RadicalMedia. Sirulnick previously was a longtime executive at MTV, where he won several Daytime Emmys.

Jody Allen
Past Sundance docs:
THE REASON I JUMP (2020)
RACING EXTINCTION (2015)
PANDORA’S PROMISE (2013)
THE BLUES (2003)

Allen is a News & Documentary Emmy-winning businesswoman and philanthropist. She co-founded Vulcan Productions with her late brother, Paul G Allen.

Ruth Johnston
Past Sundance docs:
THE REASON I JUMP
GHOST FLEET VR (2019, VR short)

General manager, Vulcan Productions. Johnston previously held executive roles at Lion Television, for which she was a Daytime Emmy winner.

Rocky Collins
Past Sundance docs:
THE REASON I JUMP
HOW TO DRAW A BUNNY (2002)

Director of production, Vulcan Productions. Collins previously held positions at the Science Channel and WGBH, picking up a Daytime Emmy for his work on Nova for the latter.

Jannat Gargi
Past Sundance docs:
THE REASON I JUMP
STEP (2017)
EARTH DAYS (2009)

VP/head of documentaries, VICE Studios. Former director of feature documentaries and distribution, Vulcan Productions. Gargi is also an executive producer of 2021 Sundance World Cinema Documentary Competition title FLEE, and a News & Documentary Emmy winner.

Beth Hubbard
Hubbard previously served as an executive producer on Sundance fiction feature alum NINE DAYS and as a lead artist on the New Frontier VR short Ashe ’68.

Davis Guggenheim
Recent past Sundance docs:
BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS (2020)
BOYS STATE (2020)
A THOUSAND CUTS (2020)
TIME (2020)
WHERE’S MY ROY COHN? (2019)
BISBEE ’17 (2018)
THE PRICE OF FREE (fka KAILASH) (2018)

Chief creative officer, Concordia Studio. The Oscar-winning Guggenheim is also an executive producer of fellow 2021 US Documentary Competition titles AT THE READY and HOMEROOM.

Laurene Powell Jobs
Past Sundance docs:
BOYS STATE
A THOUSAND CUTS
TIME
BISBEE ’17
THE PRICE OF FREE
BENDING THE ARC (2017)

Co-owner, Concordia Studio. Powell Jobs is also president and founder of the Emerson Collective, which supports social entrepreneurs who work to remove barriers to opportunities through social justice initiatives, including education and immigration reform. She is also an executive producer of fellow 2021 US Documentary Competition title HOMEROOM.

Jeffrey Lurie
Past Sundance docs:
WE ARE THE GIANT (2014)
A PLACE AT THE TABLE (fka FINDING NORTH) (2012)
SERGIO (2009)

Founder, Play/Action Pictures. Lurie is a two-time Academy Award winning producer as well as the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Marie Therese Guirgis
Past Sundance docs:
THE BRINK (2019)
ON HER SHOULDERS (2018)
AUTHOR: THE JT LEROY STORY (2016)
UNKNOWN WHITE MALE (2005)
TARNATION (2003)

Head of Production, Play/Action Pictures. Guirgis previously held executive positions at RatPac Documentary Films and Wellspring.

David Barse
First Sundance credit. Board chair, City Parks Foundation. Barse is also an investment manager and the founder/CEO of XOUT Capital.

Ron Eisenberg
First Sundance credit. Eisenberg has supported cultural events, including the City Parks Foundation’s SummerStage, through the Deborah and Ronald Eisenberg Foundation.

Sheila Johnson
Past Sundance docs:
KICKING IT (2008)

Johnson is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, hospitality CEO, sports franchise owner, and co-founder of BET.

Co-Executive Producers:
Jonathan Silberberg
Past Sundance docs:
BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS
BOYS STATE
A THOUSAND CUTS
TIME
WHERE’S MY ROY COHN?
BISBEE ’17
THE PRICE OF FREE

President, Concordia Studio. The Emmy-nominated Silberberg was previously a longtime producer at RadicalMedia, and also executive produced AT THE READY and HOMEROOM.

Nicole Stott
Recent past Sundance docs:
BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS
BOYS STATE
A THOUSAND CUTS
TIME
WHERE’S MY ROY COHN?
BISBEE ’17
WESTWOOD: PUNK, ICON, ACTIVIST (2018)

EVP, nonfiction films & series, Concordia Studio. Stott, previously the longtime head of documentary at Passion Pictures, also executive produced AT THE READY and HOMEROOM.

More Info:
Meet the Artist

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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