Mr Soul! is the award-winning documentary about the public TV variety show Soul! which empowered Black voices on a broadcast platform, during quite racially tremulous, historic times. August 1 onwards, Mr Soul! will be available to stream on HBO Max
The documentary, which premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, is written and directed by documentary filmmaker Melissa Haizlip, who is the niece of late Ellis Haizlip, Soul!’s host, creator and pioneer in his own right.
There are many of us who may have not heard of Soul!, and to correct this folly and honour her uncle’s memory, Haizlip felt it was necessary to reintroduce the show via Mr Soul!
Making the film helped us illuminate the groundbreaking cultural work of Ellis Haizlip, the man behind one of the most successful and socially significant, Black-produced television shows in U.S. history.
Creating this love letter to Black culture helps to elevate all of the significant contributions African Americans and people of color have made to the culture and to the nation.Ellis Haizlip
Mr Soul! takes us back in time to the late 60s and offers a glimpse of Black music, poetry, literature and culture against the backdrop of a politically charged environment.
The documentary weaves in and out of the past, with clips from the show being reminisced by current-day interviews from stars who had been on Soul!
From music to literature to activism, some acts to look out from Soul!: Nikki Giovanni, The Last Poets, Sonia Sanchez, Stevie Wonder, Wilson Pickett, Al Green and Earth, Wind & Fire, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Toni Morrison, Kathleen Cleaver (Black Panther Party), Stokely Carmichael and more.
Blair Underwood brings in a voice-over for Ellis Haizlip’s quotes from news articles, interviews and everything else during the time Soul! was on air, that is 1968-73.
Here’s the 2018 trailer for your perusal.
Soul! celebrated the Black experience and history in its true essence, and spoke to the Black audience who were most times denied their rights of expression in public forums. What Ellis Haizlip believed Soul!’s purpose to be, is still very relevant today:
The primary purpose of Soul! is neither to educate nor entertain, but to give people a chance to share in the Black experience. The show must do that first. Then it can educate and entertain. Soul! makes Blacks visible in a society where they have been largely invisible.Ellis Haizlip
Let us then partake in this revolutionary series — Mr Soul! on HBO Max, August 1.
About Mr Soul!
Mr. Soul! is a 2018 American documentary film chronicling around the Black-produced variety show Soul! that aired on public television between 1968-73. Mr Soul! has received 21 awards and 32 nominations.
The documentary is produced, written and directed by documentary filmmaker Melissa Haizlip, who is the niece of Ellis Haizlip, Soul!’s original creator and host. The film was co-produced by Doug Blush and co-directed by Sam Pollard.
The documentary follows Ellis Haizlip’s life and work on Soul! which was, at the time, one of the only music-and-talk programs aimed at a Black audience.