Directed by: Mel Stuart
Produced by: Larry Shaw, Mel Stuart
Starring: The Staple Singers, Richard Pryor, Rufus Thomas, Kim Weston, Johnnie Taylor, The Bar-Kays, Isaac Hayes, Albert King
Studio: Stax Records
Release date(s): February 4, 1973
Running time: 98 min.
Any serious fan of music, in general, and soul music, in particular, must watch this film at least one time in their lives. This seminal work details the amazing work that went into the planning and execution of Wattstax, the California based super concert featuring an incredible lineup of black music legends including Issac Hayes, The Bar-Kays, The Staple Singers among others. If you have not seen this one yet, don’t delay.
Description from Wikipedia:
Wattstax is a 1973 documentary film by Mel Stuart that focused on the 1972 Wattstax music festival and the African American community of Watts in Los Angeles, California. The film was nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Documentary Film in 1974. It was also screened at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival, but was not entered into the main competition.
The concert was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 20, 1972, and organized by Memphis’s Stax Records to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Watts riots. Wattstax was seen by some as “the Afro-American answer to Woodstock”. To enable as many members of the black community in L.A. to attend as possible, tickets were sold for only $1.00 each. The Reverend Jesse Jackson gave the invocation, which included Reverend William H. Borders, Sr.’s “I Am – Somebody” poem, which was recited in a call and response with the assembled stadium crowd. In the film, interspersed between songs are interviews with Richard Pryor, Ted Lange and others who discuss the black experience in America.