Mr. Soul!


Friday, Nov. 9 at 7:30pm
Washington U./Brown

On the heels of the civil-rights movement, one fearless black pioneer — Ellis Haizlip — reconceived a Harlem Renaissance for a new era, ushering giants and rising stars of black American culture onto the national television stage. Haizlip contained Whitman-esque multitudes — he was hip, smart, innovative, political, and gay — and through his personal fight for social equality, he ensured that the revolution would be televised via “Soul!,” a distinctly black take on “The Tonight Show” template. Launched in 1968 in New York, “Soul!” received a nationwide rollout on PBS the next year. By the program’s end in 1973, host and producer Haizlip had created more than 130 hour-long shows that featured a dazzling array of A-list guests, including Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, James Baldwin, Stevie Wonder, Maya Angelou, Ashford and Simpson, Nikki Giovanni, Al Green, and Muhammad Ali — even a 16-year-old Arsenio Hall doing magic tricks. “Mr. Soul!” — co-directed by Melissa Haizlip and 2017 SLIFF Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Sam Pollard — provides an intimate behind-the-scenes view of the groundbreaking “Soul!,” from its initial conception to its final broadcast, including the very public battle to keep it on the air despite a shifting political landscape.

90 min.

Directed by

Melissa Haizlip & Sam Pollard



Film Category

Human Rights Spotlight Leon & Mary Strauss Documentary Spotlight Music Spotlight Race in America: The Black Experience Women in Film Spotlight


Literature Media Music


With co-director Haizlip and Marteana Davidson, president of Gateway Media Literacy Partners.

Sponsored by

Gateway Media Literacy Partners

Film Website

Official Website

Shown with

Brooks People

Brooks People

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An exploration of the life, legacy, and impact of poet Gwendolyn Brooks, the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize.

With director Moore.
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11 min.