Questlove set to direct doc about the untold story of Harlem’s ‘Black Woodstock’
Looks The Roots DJ Questlove will soon be making his directorial debut in an upcoming feature documentary titled Black Woodstock about how the little known story of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival unfolded
According to Variety, the title of the film is a nod to the nickname given to the outdoor festival located in Harlem’s Mount Morris Park which took place from June 29-August 24, 1969. Although it’s the same summer of the almost mythical Woodstock festival, and only a year after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Black gathering never got the level of attention that its white counterpart received until now.
“I am truly excited to help bring the passion, the story and the music of the Harlem Cultural Festival to audiences around the world,” Questlove — born Ahmir Thompson — said via press release. “The performances are extraordinary. I was stunned when I saw the lost footage for the first time. It’s incredible to look at 50 years of history that’s never been told, and I’m eager and humbled to tell that story.”
A host of prominent Black acts appeared over the course of the festival including Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone, The 5th Dimension, Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach, Hugh Masakela, Jackie “Moms” Mabley, B.B. King, Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, and Gladys Knight and the Pips among others including Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Operation Breadbasket Band.
The documentary plans to highlight what a significant moment in Black music history 1969 was and also examine why the massive gathering received virtually no coverage in mainstream media despite having over 300,000 people in attendance.
David Dinerstein and Robert Fyvolent who are also producing the project along with the hip-hop drummer, have obtained over 40 hours of never-before-seen footage which up until now had been kept in storage for the last 50 years.
“The music and performances in Black Woodstock will knock audiences out of their seats,” Dinerstein and Fyvolent explained in a joint statement. “The footage is unusually rich in texture and feel. We are so proud to be working alongside Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson on his directorial debut.”
Production is still in the early stages and a release date has not yet been announced.