Questlove is Coming to the Castro Theatre for a 'Summer of Soul' Screening

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Still from 'Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)' (DocLands)

During the summer of 1969, while Jimi Hendrix improvised his famous psychedelic rendition of the National Anthem at Woodstock, an equally significant festival was going down in New York City. The Harlem Cultural Festival spanned six weekends, with America’s leading funk, soul and gospel musicians performing to crowds of tens of thousands—a mega-event that channeled the revolutionary energy then coursing through the nation just as much as its whiter festival cousin, a hundred miles to the west.

On Saturday, Nov. 6, SFFILM screens Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), the acclaimed documentary on the so-called “Black Woodstock,” with producer Questlove appearing in person for a Q&A with rock journalist Ben Fong-Torres.

While the film is available on Hulu, its rarely seen footage of performances by Mahalia Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and others is best admired at larger-than-life size on the silver screen. The Castro Theatre’s ornate interior has only intermittently hosted public events since it shut down for the pandemic last March.

The documentary's archival footage comes from Hal Tulchin, a television director who passed away in 2017. Tulchin filmed the entire Harlem Cultural Festival and preserved the reels for decades, but did not secure the full release of the footage during his lifetime. When the film was released in June, Summer of Soul attracted widespread praise for its beautiful restoration of Tulchin’s reels and extensive set of interviews with the festival’s stars.

Summer of Soul screens Saturday, Nov. 6, accompanied by a Q&A between Questlove and Ben Fong-Torres, at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. Details here.