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‘Summer of Soul’ Historic Oscar, Grammy Wins Fuel 390% Streaming Jump

Matt Tamanini

I think it’s safe to say that it is always a good time to be Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, but given the past two weeks, I’d venture to guess that there might not be a better person to be right now. Other than having his Academy Awards acceptance speech overshadowed by the slap heard ‘round the world, Questlove has been on quite the roll lately, starting with his Best Documentary Oscar win on March 27 for his film “(link: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised text: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”, followed by his Best Music Film Grammy victory this past Sunday, April 2.

Those dual victories have been a boon for the film, which chronicles the otherwise forgotten 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival which featured performances by some of the most iconic Black performers of the era, including Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, the Staple Singers, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Sly and the Family Stone, and more.

The film is streaming on both Hulu and Disney+which is another issue altogether — and while Disney has not released any specific numbers, the company did say that the doc saw a 390% increase in viewership from March 27 through April 5 (the week and a half starting with the Oscars and ending a few days after the Grammys) on their domestic and international streaming platforms.

While it certainly undermined the moment, Chris Rock was presenting the Academy Award for Best Documentary when Will Smith came on stage and struck him. Questlove was visibly shaken moments later while accepting the award, but the attention after the fact very well could have contributed to “Summer of Soul’s” triple-digit viewership rise.

The film became the third to win both the Oscar and Grammy in these categories, joining 2013’s “20 Feet from Stardom” and 2015’s “Amy” about the late Amy Winehouse. However, due to delays brought on by COVID-19 surges, the Grammys occurred roughly two months later than they normally would have pre-pandemic, making the one-two awards punch especially fruitful for “Summer of Soul.”

소울, 영혼, 그리고 여름

2021 M07 2

1969년 미국뿐만 아니라 전 세계적으로 화제를 불러일으켰던 음악축제 ′우드스탁′이 한창이던 여름날, 100마일 정도 떨어진 뉴욕시 외곽에서 ′할렘 컬쳐 페스티벌′이라는 음악 축제가 동시에 개최되었다. 스티비 원더, BB킹 등 그 당시 미국 음악계를 호령했던 뮤지션들의 공연과 30만이라는 어마어마한 관객들이 참여했던 이 페스티벌은 모두 녹화되었지만 단지 흑인들의 축제라는 이유로 그 어느 곳에서도 방영되지 못한 채 사장되고 말았다. 50년 후 을 통해 그 당시 생생했던 공연장면과 전국에서 몰려든 관객들의 환호와 갈채가 처음 공개된다. 마치 열광적인 공연을 본 것 같은 이 작품은 왜 그 당시 흑인 음악을 ′소울′이라고 불렀는지 여실히 보여준다. [제26회 부산국제영화제]