Mr. SOUL!, a critically acclaimed documentary produced and directed by Melissa Haizlip, is based on SOUL!, a variety television show from 1968 to 1973 that showcased African American music, dance and literature. Announced today by Executive Producers Chaz Ebert, record executive and film producer Ron Gillyard, producer and director Stan Lathan, Hillman Grad Productions producing partner Rishi Rajani, Run&Shoot Filmworks CEO Stephanie T. Rance, actor and producer Blair Underwood and Emmy award-winning writer, producer and Hillman Grad Productions CEO, Lena Waithe, Mr. SOUL! will premiere on HBO Max on August 1, 2021.
The film won 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.
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.
It shifted 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 live performances by icons and luminaries such as: Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Nikki Giovanni, James Baldwin, Cicely Tyson, Harry Belafonte, Muhammad Ali, The Last Poets, Earth, Wind & Fire, Sidney Poitier, Mavis Staples, Black Ivory, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Maya Angelou, Billy Preston, Toni Morrison, Bill Withers, Sonia Sanchez, Wilson Pickett, Kool & the Gang, Roberta Flack, Kathleen Cleaver, Amiri Baraka, Carmen de Lavallade, George Faison, Melba Moore, Max Roach, and a 16-year-old Arsenio Hall making his television debut performing magic tricks.
Mr. SOUL! made its world premiere at the TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL where audiences embraced it with standing ovations and sold-out screenings. Mr. SOUL! received 33 nominations and won 21 awards including 14 film festival awards. Mr. SOUL! screened at over 50 film festivals around the world, including HOT DOCS, AFI Docs, BFI London, True/False, Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, Woodstock Film Festival, Pan African Film Festival, Urbanworld, Los Angeles Film Festival and more. Mr. SOUL! was nominated for three NAACP Image Awards, and won for Outstanding Writing in a Documentary (Television or Motion Picture).
In 2020, Mr. SOUL! was nominated for five Critics Choice Documentary Awards including Best Documentary Feature, and won the award for Best First Documentary Feature. The film won the International Documentary Association IDA Doc Award for Best Music Documentary, the Finalist Award for the Inaugural Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, the Audience Award at both AFI Docs and at Woodstock Film Festival. Mr. SOUL! was nominated for a Cinema Eye Honors for Outstanding Debut Feature. The film made its PBS premiere on Independent Lens during Black History Month 2021.
The much-anticipated Mr. SOUL! soundtrack will be available on Hillman Grad Records / Def Jam Recordings, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc. The first single off the soundtrack will be “Show Me Your Soul,” performed by Lalah Hathaway, and written by Robert Glasper, Lalah Hathaway, Muhammad Ayers and Melissa Haizlip.
For more information on Mr. SOUL!, please visit www.mrsoulmovie.com and @mrsoulthemovie on Instagram and Twitter.