Virtual Screening Room: Mr. Soul!

PRESENTED AS PART OF ROXBURY INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL’S FALL 2020 SCREENING SERIES

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2018 • dir Melissa Haizlip and Sam Pollard • 99 min

Before Oprah, before Arsenio, there was MR. SOUL! Ellis Haizlip ensures the Revolution will be televised, with “SOUL!,” America’s first “Black Tonight Show.” From 1968 to 1973, the public-television variety show SOUL!, guided by the enigmatic, openly gay producer and host Ellis Haizlip, offered an unfiltered, uncompromising celebration of Black literature, poetry, music, and politics—voices that had few other options for national exposure, and, as a result, found the program an improbable place to call home. The series was among the first 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 a bevy of great archival clips, MR. SOUL! captures a critical moment in culture whose impact continues to resonate.

Featuring rare live performances and interviews from the legendary Al Green, heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, Sidney Poitier, Cicely Tyson, James Baldwin, Nikki Giovanni, The Last Poets, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Ashford & Simpson, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, Billy Preston, Black Ivory, The Delfonics, Bill Withers, Sonia Sanchez, Wilson Pickett, Odetta, Merry Clayton, Mandrill, Kool & the Gang, Toni Morrison, Kathleen Cleaver, Betty Shabazz, Stokely Carmichael, Mrs. Georgia Jackson, George Faison, Patti LaBelle, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and many more.

“An enthralling and illuminating documentary.”
– Richard Brody, New Yorker