Upcoming Film

Summer of Soul, Community Soul Sing-a-Long, My House Once Stood Here

Showing: Sunday, August 18 (rain date, 8/25)
Title: SOUL & HISTORY: Summer of Soul, Community Soul Sing-a-Long, My House Once Stood Here
Country: USA

Genre: , ,
Performers: ,,,,,,,

View Trailer 

A free outdoor screening of the Academy Award winning film Summer of Soul projected on a 4-story wall in the center of Nyack, kicked of by a Community Soul Sing-A-Long and outdoor multi-media gallery with images and sounds from the largely Black community that once stood in the same spot before it was destroyed in the name of urban renewal.

This program is made possible with funds from Arts Alive, a regrant program of Arts Westchester, with support from the office of the Governor, New York State Legislature, and the New York State Council on the Arts, as well as support from the Village of Nyack, NAACP Nyack Branch, Angel Nyack, Wright Bros Real Estate, and Nyack Center.

SOUL & HISTORY: A Tale of Two Communities

Summer of Soul
Artopee Way Drive-In
The Artopee Way Municipal Parking Lot will be converted into a pop-up drive-in theater for a free outdoor screening of Summer of Soul – the Academy Award winning music documentary featuring previously unseen footage celebrating the Black music, art and culture of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. Performances include Stevie Wonder, Gladys Night and the Pips, Sly and the Family Stone, Nina Simone, B.B. King, The Fifth Dimension, Mahalia Jackson and more.  The movie will be projected onto a building across from the parking lot. Sit in your car and tune into a radio station for the audio, or bring lawn chairs, watch from a viewing area and listen to audio from surrounding speakers.

Community Soul Sing-a-Long
Municipal Lot behind Hezekiah Easter Square
A DJ will get everyone in the mood for Summer of Soul by leading the first of a series of Community Sing-a-Longs organized by Mary White and the non-profit mentoring program Diamonds & Pearls Inc.

My House Once Stood Here
Opening reception
Hezekiah Easter Square gazebo

A multimedia exhibit by Kris Burns featuring archival images of the Black neighborhood that once flourished behind Hezekiah Easter Square. QR codes on each image will be linked to video and audio excerpts from the documentary “What Happened to Jackson Avenue: A story of Urban Renewal” by Hakia Alem and Rudi Gohl, produced by Nyack’s Phoenix Theatre Ensemble.

About Soul & History: A Tale of Two Communities

On the surface, Summer of Soul is an exuberant, Academy Award-winning concert film (by some accounts “the best ever made”) inspiring audiences and critics around the country to quite literally dance in the aisles. At its heart, it is a history lesson and a testament to the responsibility of art to share forgotten stories, make noise and heal. It shines a light on the importance of history to our spiritual well-being and stands as a testament to the healing power of music during times of unrest.

“History isn’t just what we know.  It’s also what we don’t know.  The more generations that were born and schooled without this festival on their radar, the more people would be operating with only a partial field of vision.  An obstructed view is not a clear one,” says the director of the film, Questlove.

A few years after Summer of Soul captivated its audiences, 23 miles north of Harlem, a film called What Happened to Jackson Avenue emerged, telling the little known story of how an entire black neighborhood was demolished in the heart of downtown Nyack. Through archival photographs and emotional testimony from survivors, the film chronicles how the demolition of 125 predominantly black-owned homes destroyed a community.  Screenings of this film led to long overdue conversations about “revisionist history”, the loss of generational wealth and the erasure of Black culture, community and history.

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

Best Documentary Film: 2022 Academy Awards, Sundance Film Festival, Boston Society of Film Critics, Chicago Film Critics, Florida Film Critics, London Critics, Los Angeles Film Critics, National Board of Review, Online Film Critics, San Diego Film Critics, Southeastern Film Critics, Toronto Film Critics, Vancouver Film Critics, Phoenix Film Critics, Washington, DC Area Critics, St. Louis Film Critics, Alliance of Woman Film Journalists, Detroit Film Critics, Iowa Film Critics, Indiana Film Critics, Iowa Film Critics, African-American Film Critics, Denver Film Critics, Georgia Film Critics, Oklahoma Film Critics, Houston Film Critics, North Carolina Film Critics, Black Film Critics, Critic’s Choice Documentary Award, Hawaii Film Critics, Philadelphia Film Critics, New Mexico Film Critics, Hollywood Critics, San Francisco Film Critics, Seattle Film Critics, Portland Film Critics, and Best Music Documentary, Grammy Awards

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

“It’s an extraordinary event not just of musical history. It’s a mind-blowing moment of American history. And for five decades, the footage of it apparently just sat in a basement, waiting for someone like Thompson to give it its due.” – The New York Times

Summer of Soul transcends a mere chronicle of a legendary concert — which, frankly, would have been entertaining enough. Instead, he pulls the lens back to examine an event whose artistic and generational significance can be justifiably compared to the three-day concert that took place the same summer in Upstate New York, but was never allowed to achieve similar traction in the collective psyche. In this meticulously layered investigation, not only does Thompson celebrate the extraordinary artistry of the most influential musicians of their era but he interrogates the deeper meaning of how public memory is created and — in this case — casually erased.” – Washington Post

Summer of Soul is about the Harlem Cultural Festival of 1969. If you haven’t heard of it, that may be because it was—tellingly, if not deliberately—erased from public consciousness.” – The New Yorker

“All of these acts are extraordinary. But the real miracle of Summer of Soul is the audience, vast and varied and nearly all Black: Whole families had come to the park, picnics in tow.” – TIME

“This is black music at the end of a turbulent decade filled with rights gained and leaders lost. It’s Motown, the blues, R&B, Afro-Latino jams and praise-the-lord hymns — songs that are loving, healing, spiritual, carnal, buoyant and enraged.” – Rolling Stone

“However you look at it—as concert footage enriched by cultural history or cultural history raised up by glorious music—“Summer of Soul” is a thrilling documentary and a remarkable feature debut by the musician and man of many media parts Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson.” – Wall Street Journal

“A breathtaking chronicle of Black culture in a pivotal moment.” – NPR

“Questlove turns to some of the surviving musicians (and other celebrities) to offer commentary while looking at the material again all these years later, but the most touching moments come from concertgoers who were simply kids from the neighborhood reflecting on a transformative summer. Watching Sly and the Family Stone burn down the stage with their closing number Higher, witness Musa Jackson is moved to tears. You can tell he’s been clinging to these hazy memories for 50 years, and may have even doubted himself when others called his stories of six weeks of free concerts in Harlem crazy. The lack of awareness of this event is another tragic example of black history being ignored. Only this time the record survived, and now we all get to share in it.” – Guardian

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Thank you to our funders

Rivertown Film is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts and from Restart the Arts, a regrant program of Arts Westchester, with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.

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