An experience you can't download

Actor: B.B. King

Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

In his acclaimed debut as a filmmaker, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (The Roots) presents a powerful and transporting documentary-part music film, part historical record created around an epic event that celebrated Black history, culture and fashion. Over the course of six weeks in the summer of 1969, just one hundred miles south of Woodstock, The Harlem Cultural Festival was filmed in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park). The footage was never seen and largely forgotten–until now. SUMMER OF SOUL 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, both past and present. The feature includes never-before-seen concert performances by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Ray Baretto, Abbey Lincoln & Max Roach, and more.

Winner, Audience & Grand Jury Awards, Sundance Film Festival 2021

“Sonically flawless, authentically textured and deep-rooted in cultural significance, Summer Of Soul succeeds magnificently in capturing the scale, spiritual resonance and, yes, soul of the Harlem Cultural Festival.” (Empire Magazine)

“Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s look back at the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival rescues a milestone series of live shows — and is damn near a music-doc masterpiece…. If ‘Summer of Soul’ were nothing but a labor-of-love rescue mission from a soul-music scholar, it would still be a first-rate concert film. What’s captured here is a vibrant, vital, essential look at a handful of performers in their prime, and then some. A 19-year-old Stevie Wonder jumping in front of his keyboard before banging out a manic drum solo. Nina Simone turning “Backlash Blues” into the equivalent of a boxing match. David Ruffin, fresh from leaving the Temptations, holding a single note for 20 seconds before immediately going into a soul-man scream. Sly and his multiracial band at their peak, reminding you that funk is both a noun and a verb. Gladys Knight and the stop-on-a-dime-hand-you-back-nine-cents-change choreography of the Pips. Mahalia and Mavis Staples together, taking everyone to church.” (Rolling Stone Magazine)

“Imagine Soul Train poured into a blender with Woodstock and you’ll have an idea of the glimmering gem that is Summer of Soul.” (LA Weekly)

“[It’s] the documentary the Harlem Cultural Festival deserves … Anyone who watches ‘Summer of Soul’ should experience it on the biggest screen possible. It’s the type of documentary that will inspire meaningful discussions and repeat viewings.” (Culture Mix)

Monday, September 6
Doors 12:45 pm | Movie 1:45 pm *Start time subject to change. Please arrive on time.
Advance tickets $15 HERE | $15 at the door

Thursday, September 9
Doors 5:50 pm | Movie 6:20 pm *Start time subject to change. Please arrive on time.
Advance tickets $15 HERE | $15 at the door

Due to reduced capacity, advance tickets are recommended for all shows to ensure seating. Online sales for every screening automatically end 1 hour before any given showtime.

*Minors permitted in the balcony. Must be 19+ w/ID for bar service and main floor seating.
*Rio Theatre Groupons and passes OK for any single film screening only. Please redeem at the box office.
*If you are looking to redeem your tickets to either a canceled Rio Theatre screening or a Rio Theatre gift certificate, please email <> with info including your name, canceled receipt number, gift certificate info, what you are wanting to see and when, and we can make the switch for you in advance. Alternately, you can bring this information with you to the venue, and we will do our best to help you at the box office.

SUMMER OF SOUL (… OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED) (Ahmir “Questlove” Thomspon, 2021 / 117 mins / PG) During the same summer as Woodstock, over 300,000 people attended the Harlem Cultural Festival, celebrating African American music and culture, and promoting Black pride and unity. The footage from the festival sat in a basement, unseen for over 50 years, keeping this incredible event in America’s history lost—until now.

When We Were Kings

When We Were Kings

Ali Bumaye! In honour of the extraordinary life lived by athlete, activist and cultural icon Muhammad Ali, we are presenting a screening of Leon Gast‘s phenomenal documentary When We Were Kings on Thursday, June 23 at 7:00 pm. This Oscar-winning film is a fantastic portrait of “The Greatest,” and specifically explores his persona through the… Continue Reading