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'Summer of Soul' producer says Will Smith “robbed” their moment


When Will Smith took to the stage at the 94th Academy awards and slapped presenter Chris Rock across the face, the world watched on in bewilderment as the course of the ceremony changed indefinitely. 

Creating an awkward mood in the Dolby Theatre of Los Angeles, the significance of ‘the slap’ took over from all the other magnificent successes of the awards show, with the press uninterested in anything else besides the gossip behind the violent act. As a result, the surprise Best Picture win for CODA was overshadowed, as well as Questlove’s win for Best Documentary that immediately followed the slap itself.  

Winning the award for his directorial debut Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson’s speech was undoubtedly hard to follow, with Will Smith having magnetised all the attention thanks to his violent act. 

Now, the producer of the documentary, Joseph Patel has taken to Twitter to discuss how Smith “robbed” the team of their moment in the spotlight. “I think what Will did was selfish,” Patel wrote, adding, “It robbed the category of its moment. It robbed the other excellent and amazing films of their moment to be acknowledged in what was a STRONG year for docs. And it robbed Summer of Soul and our team of our moment. Of a loud, enthusiastic cheer for a celebrated film”. 

Whilst Smith was certainly up for criticism, Chris Rock didn’t evade criticism from Patel either, with the presenter coming under fire for reading the winner’s card as “Amir Thompson and four white guys”. Directed by Questlove and produced by Patel from South Asia and David Dinerstein and Robert Fyvolent, who are both white.

Continuing in his rightfully angry social media post, Patel added, “The reason that makes me SO SO VERY ANGRY is because I was so proud to be one of a handful of South Asians to have ever won an Oscar in the history of the award”.

He then finalised his thoughts by criticising both Smith and Rock for their actions, stating, “I’m a big boy — I can take a joke. Comedians make jokes. But not in that moment. What a shitty, disrespectful thing to do… What both Will AND Chris did really stained what should have been a beautiful moment for us”.