Sundance 2021: CODA, Summer of Soul | Festivals and awards

All of those wonderful things in the Rossi family are offset a bit by the other elements of “CODA,” including a fairly wide and familiar twist from Derbez and an underdeveloped love story. It’s not really either player’s fault that their material just doesn’t resonate as much, feeling much more the product of a familiar Sundance indie. “CODA” comes alive around the Rossi’s dinner table or on the boat in the morning as they go about their business, and sinks a bit when forced to beat familiar rhythms. In the end, you won’t care about the latter. You’ll care too much about the Rossis, one of the most three-dimensional and authentic families in a Sundance comedy-drama for a long time.

A very different kind of joy erupts from each image of “Summer of Soul (… Or, When the Revolution could not be Televised)”, a powerful recovery of a major cultural event that has been lost to history. In 1969, the same summer as Woodstock, a different concert took place in a Harlem park when more than 300,000 people attended something called the Harlem Cultural Festival. It was filmed, and then the footage sat in a basement for 50 years, assembled into a documentary here by the talented Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots, which brings together many artists, participants and other cultural icons from the era to discuss what happened that day and how it reflected a big part of black history and their future. It’s a happy movie, something I could have watched for hours on end, and it just has some of the best concert footage ever shot. It’s amazing to think of what else could be sitting in a basement somewhere.

Questlove alternates the interview footage, often accompanied by footage of interview subjects seeing clips from the concert for the first time since that day, with long performance segments. As an artist himself, he balances the music of the event well with its greater meaning, sometimes feeling like he’s biting a bit more than the movie can chew in terms of capturing much of the black experience through the filter of a day, but often justifying this ambition. It presents the Harlem Cultural Festival as a major turning point in New York history, a coming together of different races and cultures, and a recovery of the word Black. Instead of just giving people a feel for the event – and he does so with amazingly restored video and sound – he places the event in the context of the story, noting when it happened. produced in connection with events like the assassination of Martin. Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and the Kennedys. The concert even took place on the same day as the moon landing, and interview segments in which the people of Harlem wonder why that money couldn’t have been spent on them give the play additional context. . It’s not just a concert – it’s a review of a turning point in culture.

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