HITS Daily Double


Production has begun on a feature documentary about the Harlem Cultural Festival series of concerts held in 1969 that featured Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, Nina Simone and others. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is the director.

Thompson is making his feature directorial debut with Black Woodstock about the outdoor festival in Harlem’s Mount Morris Park that collectively attracted more than 300,000 people to concerts held every Sunday between 6/29/69 and 9/24/69. Hal Tulchin shot 40 hours of footage that has never been seen and has been in storage for the past 50 years.

“The performances are extraordinary,” Questlove says. “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.”

Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein (Cries From Syria; Winter On Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom) have tapped RadicalMedia (What Happened, Miss Simone?) as creative and production partners with Jon Kamen and Dave Sirulnick serving as executive producers. Vulcan Productions is co-producing. Randall Poster is the music supervisor.

In 1969, local entertainer Tony Lawrence organized, produced and was emcee for the shows that included performances by B.B. King, The Staple Singers, The 5th Dimension, David Ruffin, Mahalia Jackson and Gladys Knight and The Pips. The idea was to celebrate African-American music, culture and politics, and to promote black pride and unity.

The only footage ever seen was in hourlong specials that WNEW broadcast on Saturday nights in the summer of ’69.