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.
Film CategoryHuman Rights Spotlight Leon & Mary Strauss Documentary Spotlight Music Spotlight Race in America: The Black Experience Women in Film Spotlight
SubjectLiterature Media Music
Gateway Media Literacy Partners
Film WebsiteOfficial Website
An exploration of the life, legacy, and impact of poet Gwendolyn Brooks, the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize.
Rhapsody in Black
A Los Angeles radio DJ transports his audience back in time to explore historic black Los Angeles through music.