Docs

Questlove’s directorial debut “Summer of Soul” sells to Disney’s Searchlight, Hulu

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s Sundance-winning feature-length documentary Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) has been acquired by The Walt Disney Company’s Searchlight Pictures and Hulu. Under terms of the deal put together ...
February 5, 2021

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s Sundance-winning feature-length documentary Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) has been acquired by The Walt Disney Company’s Searchlight Pictures and Hulu.

Under terms of the deal put together by Disney General Entertainment’s BIPOC Creator initiative, led by Tara Duncan, the acquisition is for worldwide rights, with the film set for theatrical release and to stream on Hulu in the U.S. It will stream internationally on Star and Star+.

The acquisition comes two days after Thompson’s directorial debut won Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize for U.S. documentary competition and Audience Award.

Thompson’s 117-minute Summer of Soul (pictured), produced by David Dinerstein, Robert Fyvolent and Joseph Patel, tells the story of the Harlem Cultural Festival, held during the same summer as Woodstock in 1969. The event drew in more than 300,000 people to celebrate African American music and culture. The documentary unearths footage from the festival after 50-plus years.

Summer of Soul additionally includes interviews and performances by varied artists such as B.B. King, Cal Tjader, The Harlem Calypso Band, Hugh Masekela, Mongo Santamaria, Nina Simone and Sly & the Family Stone, among others.

“It’s rare to find a film that captures the breadth of the Black American experience and also makes you want to dance, testify and sing out loud,” said Disney’s Duncan in a statement. “Ahmir has gifted us with a brilliantly crafted, nearly forgotten gem from our history, and we are honored to help bring Summer of Soul to audiences.”

“It’s been overwhelming to watch audiences rediscover this lost piece of history and fall in love with our film,” added producers David Dinerstein and Robert Fyvolent. “As people are struggling to restore their lives in the midst of a pandemic, we feel this film will bring joy, together with a needed reexamination of important social issues. We could not have asked for a better launch from the Sundance Film Festival, and we are deeply excited to partner with Searchlight Pictures, Hulu and the Disney family on an epic global release.”

The film is produced by Vulcan Productions in association with Concordia Studio, Play/Action Pictures, LarryBilly Productions, and was produced by Mass Distraction Media and RadicalMedia.

Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) is executive produced by Jen Isaacson, Jon Kamen, Dave Sirulnick, Jody Allen, Ruth Johnston, Rocky Collins, Jannat Gargi, Beth Hubbard, Davis Guggenheim, Laurene Powell Jobs, Jeffrey Lurie, Marie Therese Guirgis, David Barse, Ron Eisenberg, Sheila Johnson and Thompson. Jonathan Silberberg and Nicole Stott are co-executive producers.

With files from Jillian Morgan

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.

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