Produced, written and directed by Melissa Haizlip, the celebrated documentary, "Mr. SOUL!" is the proud recipient of the prestigious 2022 Peabody Award. The announcement was made by Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman, and 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 " SOUL!" From 1968 to 1973, the public television variety show, "SOUL!", guided by 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," says Melissa Haizlip, the film's director and the niece of the host Ellis Haizlip. "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."
Prior to the PBS premiere, "Mr. SOUL!" received 33 nominations and won 21 awards, including the Critics' Choice Documentary Award for Best First Feature Documentary; the Best Music Documentary at the IDA Doc Awards; the Best Feature Documentary at the Pan African Film & Arts Festival; the Audience Award for Best Feature at 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; and the Audience Award at the Woodstock Film Festival.
The film was nominated for Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film at the Cinema Eye Honors. Melissa serves on the Board of Directors of the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, New York and recently co-executive produced an original docu-series about Women in Hip-Hop for Netflix. Melissa is now the Executive Producer and showrunner on BlackPop (WT), a new 4-part docu-series for NBC Universal, E! and Peacock. Executive produced by Stephen Curry for Unanimous Media, the series looks at the Black American dream, explored through the lens of Black excellence in television, music, film and sports.
"Mr. SOUL!" is executive produced by award-winning actor and producer, Blair Underwood, producer Chaz Ebert and producer Stan Lathan, as well as Hillman Grad Productions’ Founder Lena Waithe & CEO Rishi Rajani. The film is currently streaming on HBO Max.
For more information on Mr. SOUL!, please visit www.mrsoulmovie.com and @mrsoulthemovie on Instagram and Twitter.