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Looking at the line-up for the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, it’s almost impossible to believe that footage of the three-day event has been sitting on a shelf for more than five decades. Stevie Wonder! Sly and the Family Stone! B.B. King! Nina Simone! Gladys Knight & the Pips! The list of legendary performers goes on and on.
And yet, no-one had seen any of that footage since it was shot. The festival was overshadowed by Woodstock, dismissed due to racist assumptions by broadcasters, and left sitting in a basement. Now, thanks to filmmaker Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, it’s finally seeing the light of day.
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) is a new documentary featuring restored footage alongside modern-day interviews with some of the performers, as well as celebrity fans including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Chris Rock, and Sheila E. It’s hard to overstate just how amazing the footage is, how awe-inspiring the performances.
We’re really excited to be screening it here at Regent Street Cinema, and to whet your appetite, we’ve put together a playlist of tracks by some of the artists featured.
Turn your speakers up and enjoy:
Summer Of Soul screens at Regent Street Cinema from Friday 16 July.