Fifth about The Seventh

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised): Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s documentary celebrates not only the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival but Blackness itself. Music is, of course, the main form of expression and focus, but the simple fact that footage from the festival was buried for over five decades speaks volumes about racial relations in the United States. The music is very varied, including soul, blues, gospel artists of the highest caliber (B.B. King, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Gladys Knight, to name but a few). The interviews (with attendees, artists, and activists) help in setting the context, but alas when they start to veer away too much from the festival itself, the film’s pace suffers a bit. Editor Joshua L. Pearson had a lot of material to choose from, but maybe some less overindulgence and a few minutes less would have resulted in an overall better experience.

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