Questlove to direct Black Woodstock documentary

The Roots drummer's directorial debut will tell the untold tale of 1969's Harlem Cultural Festival

Questlove Black Woodstock directorial debut documentary
Questlove, photo by Jeffrey Delannoy

    Questlove can do it all. The Roots drummer is the musical director at The Tonight Show, the owner of an Impossible cheesesteak company, a cookbook author, and even the voice of a Pixar character. Now, he’s adding another title to his resumé, as he’s set to make his directorial debut with the upcoming documentary Black Woodstock.

    In production now, the feature-length doc centers on the Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969. The six-day concert series was set in Mount Morris Park and featured performances by Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, Nina Simone, B.B. King, The Staple Singers, and more.

    Though the event occurred during the same summer as the iconic Woodstock festival and drew over 300,000 guests, its place in history is nowhere near as prominent. Mainstream media at the time barely covered the Harlem Cultural Festival. Fortunately, television cameraman Hal Tulchin was on hand to capture over 40 hours of video during the shows. Locked in storage for five decades, the never-before-seen footage serves as the basis for Black Woodstock.


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    Said Questlove in a statement,

    “I am truly excited to help bring the passion, the story and the music of the Harlem Cultural Festival to audiences around the world. 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.”

    No release date has been set for Black Woodstock, but history buffs and music fans alike should be anticipating Questlove’s first turn as director. Producers on the project include Robert Fyvolent, David Dinerstein and Joseph Patel, while RadicalMedia’s Jon Kamen and Dave Sirulnick will serve as EPs alongside Beth Hubbard. Joshua L. Pearson (What Happened, Miss Simone?) has been tapped as editor, and Randal Poster (Grand Budapest Hotel) is on board as musical director.

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