Melissa Haizlip‘s award-winning documentary, “Mr. Soul!”, has now been nominated for Outstanding Documentary (Film), Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Motion Picture) and Outstanding Writing in a Documentary (Television or Motion Picture) at the 52nd NAACP Image Awards. The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. They have over 2,200 units and branches across the nation, along with well over two million advocates. Their mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. The distinguished NAACP Image Awards ceremony annually celebrates the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts, and is set to air on BET at 7pm CT on Saturday, March 27th.
The film “Mr Soul!” chronicles the legacy of “SOUL!”, the public television variety show produced and hosted by Ellis Haizlip (the director’s uncle) that turned a spotlight on the Black Arts Movement. Enhancing the picture are music composed by Grammy-winner Robert Glasper as well as narration from Blair Underwood, who also serves as one of the film’s executive producers. In his four-star review of the film published on this site, our critic Glenn Kenny wrote that “the clips from the show—and seriously, can someone assemble the entire series and get it on streaming, or physical media somehow—reveal it as a phantasmagoria of Black excellence.” The film recently premiered nationwide on Independent Lens, PBS during Black History Month and is streaming on the PBS app.
Robert Glasper and Lalah Hathaway, daughter of soul legend Donny Hathaway, have just debuted today the exclusive video for their song from the film, “Show Me Your Soul,” which is a contender in the Best Original Song category and is on the Oscar shortlist (view it below).
Representatives of the Black Arts Movement who appeared on “SOUL!” were timeless talents the likes of Patti LaBelle, Harry Belafonte, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Sidney Poitier, The Last Poets, Gladys Knight, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Nikki Giovanni, Muhammad Ali, Cicely Tyson, Earth Wind & Fire, Ashford & Simpson, Roberta Flack, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, Billy Preston, Black Ivory, The Delfonics, Bill Withers, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Sonia Sanchez, Wilson Pickett, Odetta, Merry Clayton, Mandrill, Kool & the Gang, Toni Morrison, Kathleen Cleaver, Betty Shabazz, Stokely Carmichael, Mrs. Georgia Jackson, and George Faison. During a time period when African-Americans were not routinely featured prominently on television except in negative stereotypes, this program blazed new trails for representation during its run from 1968 through 1973.
The film’s distributors, Shoes In The Bed Productions and Open Your Eyes & Think MF, are proud to announce the continuing virtual cinema release in 25 cinemas celebrating its seventh month in release (for a full list of showtimes, click here). Last September marked the 52nd anniversary of the premiere episode of SOUL! on September 12th, 1968. From that day forward, Ellis Haizlip and his inclusive crew of Black and mostly women producers, directors, crew and guest artists made history every week. And now, through this film, Ellis still continues to inspire and instill pride into new generations of fans. As he states in the film, “Black seeds keep on growing,” the time is now, and is most important.
“Making the film helped us illuminate the groundbreaking cultural work of the man behind one of the most successful and socially significant Black-produced television shows in US history,” said director Haizlip. “We’re beyond honored for the acknowledgements and excited about any nominations that will serve as a way of introducing the film, the music, and Ellis Haizlip to the world. ‘SOUL!’ is the greatest show you’ve never heard of. And up until now, Ellis Haizlip has been an unsung hero. We hope our film ‘Mr. SOUL!’ and the music it celebrates will help to change that.”
Melissa Haizlip is a dynamic emerging filmmaker who has earned many accolades for her films, including the Chaz and Roger Ebert Producing Fellowship through PROJECT INVOLVE at the Film Independent Spirit Awards. “Mr. SOUL!” has received 32 nominations and won 19 awards thus far, including the Critics Choice Documentary Award for Best First Feature Documentary, the Best Music Documentary at the IDA Documentary Awards, the Best Feature Documentary at the Pan African Film & Arts Festival, the Audience Award for Best Feature at the AFI DOCS Film Festival in Washington, D.C., the HBO Jury Award and Audience Award at the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, the Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film Finalist Award, the Audience Award at the Woodstock Film Festival and made a splash at the BFI London Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival. It is also nominated for Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film at the Cinema Eye Honors.
NOTE: Chaz Ebert is also an executive producer of the film.