Award-winning film celebrates the life and legacy of Ellis Haizlip, the pioneering producer and host of the groundbreaking PBS variety show, ‘SOUL!’ centering Black Joy
Produced, written and directed by Melissa Haizlip, the celebrated documentary, “Mr. SOUL!” is the proud recipient of the prestigious 2022 Peabody Award. The winning announcement was made by Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman. The award is being presented for the PBS broadcast of “Mr. SOUL!” which premiered on Independent Lens during Black History Month 2021. Recognized by The New York Times as a top Streaming Pick, “Mr. SOUL!” is the winner of the Best First Documentary Feature at the 2020 Critics Choice Documentary Awards, and Outstanding Writing in a Documentary (Television or Motion Picture) at the 52nd NAACP Image Awards. “Mr. SOUL!” was also shortlisted at the 93rd Academy Awards in the category of Best Original Song, for “Show Me Your Soul” by Grammy Award-winning composer Robert Glasper and Grammy Award-winning singer Lalah Hathaway.
Before Oprah, before Arsenio, there was Mr. SOUL! From 1968 to 1973, the public television variety show, SOUL!, guided by the enigmatic producer and host Ellis Haizlip, offered an unfiltered and uncompromising celebration of music, politics, dance, Black literature, and poetry. SOUL! was the first national variety show to provide expanded images of African Americans on television, shifting the gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movement. With participants’ recollections and myriad archival clips, “Mr. SOUL!” captures a critical moment in our nation’s cultural rise, whose impact continues to resonate across generations and cultures.
“Mr. SOUL!” celebrates rich cultural moments with astonishing footage of interviews and rare performances by icons and luminaries such as Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Nikki Giovanni interviewing James Baldwin, Cicely Tyson, Harry Belafonte, Muhammad Ali, The Last Poets, Earth, Wind & Fire, Sidney Poitier, Mavis Staples, Black Ivory, Maya Angelou, Billy Preston, Toni Morrison, Bill Withers, Sonia Sanchez, Wilson Pickett, Kool & the Gang, Roberta Flack, Kathleen Cleaver, Amiri Baraka, Carmen de Lavallade, Melba Moore, Max Roach, and a 16-year-old Arsenio Hall making his television debut performing magic tricks.
“We are humbled and honored for “Mr. SOUL!” to receive the Peabody Award. Ellis Haizlip was an extraordinary producer and visionary. We are beyond grateful for Ellis Haizlip’s pioneering work on SOUL! and his legacy to be recognized by the Peabody committee. It is an extraordinary honor for this film to receive such a prestigious award reflecting excellence in quality storytelling,” says Melissa Haizlip, Producer and Director of “Mr. SOUL!”
Prior to the PBS release, “Mr. SOUL!” received 33 nominations and won 21 awards including 14 film festival awards. The film is executive produced by award-winning actor and producer, Blair Underwood, producer Chaz Ebert, and producer Stan Lathan. “Mr. SOUL!” is currently streaming on HBO Max.
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