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January 23, 2023

Questlove's Sly Stone documentary, a follow-up to 'Summer of Soul,' to be produced for Hulu

Onyx Collective, a content brand owned by Disney, acquired the rights to the upcoming film. It does not yet have a release date

Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson's upcoming documentary about the life and career of funk musician Sly Stone, whose work was featured in prominently in "Summer of Soul," will be released on Hulu after being acquired by a Disney-owned content brand. 

The film, which remains untitled, chronicles the rise, reign and fadeout of Sly and The Family Stone, one of music's most influential pop artists, according to a plot synopsis. The documentary is now owned by Onyx Collective, a brand that produces movies and TV shows exclusively for Hulu.

It is unclear when production on the documentary will be completed or when the film will be released on Hulu. Fans can expect updates from Questlove on his social media throughout the year.

The documentary is a directorial follow-up to "Summer of Soul (...Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised"), which garnered massive critical and audience acclaim following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in early 2021. The film swept the ensuing awards season, earning Questlove his first Oscar, for best documentary feature, and a Grammy for best music film. 

"It goes beyond saying that Sly's legacy is in my DNA," Questlove told Variety when the project was revealed in early 2021. "It's a Black musician's footprint. ... To be given the honor to explore his history and legacy is beyond a dream for me." 

Stone co-founded the band in San Francisco in 1966, and created funk music that blended R&B and soul with psychedelic rock. The band enjoyed widespread commercial success in the 1960s and 1970s, but Stone struggled with substance misuse, which led to the fadeout of his musical career by the early 1980s. 

Though he continued to release music as a solo artist and appeared on projects with Earth, Wind and Fire until the mid-1990s, he made few public appearances until the mid-2000s. He performed with The Family Stone a handful of times and released his most recent solo album in 2011 after signing a new recording contract with Cleopatra Records. 

The funk musician sued his former managers in 2010, accusing them of cheating him out of years of royalty payments. Though he won the lawsuit, he was unable to receive the payments because he'd sold his royalties to a production company. In 2019, Michael Jackson's estate acquired the rights to Stone's catalog. 

Questlove's documentary "tells a very human story about the cost of genius," according to Onyx Collective. A separate Stone documentary featuring several interviews with the reclusive musician was set for a premiere in 2019, but never came to fruition, Pitchfork reported. 

Stone, born Sylvester Stewart, is among the executive producers on Questlove's film. The documentary is being produced by Derik Murray, who is best known for documentaries on global superstars, and Joseph Patel, who signed an exclusive deal with Onyx Collective earlier this month. Patel is also set to write the feature alongside music journalist Jeff Mao. 

Onyx Collective was founded in 2021 as a way for Hulu to diversify its programming and provide support to minority creators. Projects like "Summer of Soul," "The 1619 Project" and "Judas and the Black Messiah" have been released under the Onyx Collective umbrella. 

"Our industry is immeasurably enriched by the incredible talents of emerging and established creators of color," Dana Walden, Disney General Entertainment Content chairman, said when the brand was launched. "Launching Onyx Collective allows us to be the best partners to those creators, providing them with the support they need to do their best work. We have the opportunity to tell transformative stories that authentically represent our audience and are essential to our success." 

Check out a 1968 performance from Sly and The Family Stone on "The Ed Sullivan Show" below.