Ahmir Thompson’s documentary film Summer of Soul stole the spotlight at the 2021 Critics Choice Documentary Awards, reigning victorious in all six categories for which it held nominations.
Summer of Soul premiered earlier this year at the annual Sundance Film Festival, to rousing critical acclaim. The film features exclusive, never-before-seen footage of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, including appearances by Sly and the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, and Nina Simone. Ahead of the award ceremony, Summer of Soul was tied with Jessica Kingdom’s Ascension for the most overall nominations.
In his initial acceptance speech of the evening, Thompson expressed his complex emotions regarding the win, stating:
“I’ve been in this industry for 30-plus years, and I always thought celebrating something was a weakness. When my first album came out or when my first book [released], or my first day of teaching class, I sort of just pushed it to the side like it was nothing. I’ve learned that it’s safe to celebrate an achievement, so how ironic that this new journey in my life starts now.”
The film went on to snag a total of six awards over the course of the evening, including best archival documentary, best music documentary, best editing, best first documentary feature, best director, and best overall documentary feature.
The 2021 Critics Choice Documentary Awards were hosted by Roy Wood Jr., held this past Sunday at the BRIC Arts and Events venue in Brooklyn, New York. Christopher Campbell, president of the Critic’s Choice Association Documentary Branch, spoke to his gratitude and excitement for the event in a statement to press.
“We are proud to be able to recognize such outstanding work at this year’s awards gala in our return to a live event. It was a wonderful night of showcasing and honoring the best of the best in documentary storytelling, with a mix of fresh faces and veteran talents lauded by our members. We are excited for our choices to inform the choices of film fans everywhere, as the CCDAs continue to support nonfiction filmmaking and influence the growing audience for documentaries.”