Jury Coordination and Notes

Mr. Soul! Focuses How Ellis Haizlip Used His Program To Show Black Talent In Positive Ways

Mr. Soul! is right on time given the subject – Ellis Haizlip – and his accomplishments as America’s first Black nighttime talk show host during the Civil Rights Movement/Black Power Movement from 1968 – 1973.  It is a rich story that will resonate with audiences across the nation and across generations.  With Black Lives Matter and the current state of our country and our communities addressing racism in a meaningful manner – Haizlip’s story and his inspiration is now even more important.   Ellis was innovative, political and gay. In his personal fight for social equality, this man ensured that the revolution would be televised. Along with the incredible music performances from Gladys Knight, Al Green, Earth Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder  and more; historical interviews with folks like Muhammad Ali, Sidney Poitier, Cicely Tyson, James Baldwin, Nikki Giovanni, Kathleen Cleaver, Stokely Carmichael, Harry Belafonte   and others; and performances from Sonia Sanchez, George Faison, The Last Poets, Alvin Ailey and more, MR. SOUL! captures this monumental movement in America, at a time when the whole nation was going through a change.  This time now feels very familiar. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “This movie focuses on African American music, dance and literature and how Mr. Haizlip used his program to show Black talent in positive ways.” See her full review below.

Mr. Soul!
By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

The documentary Mr. Soul! is entertaining and touching! It is remarkably interesting and makes you want to research more about Ellis Haizlip. He made a huge difference in the way African Americans were shown on television by creating his own show called “SOUL!. This movie focuses on African American music, dance and literature and how Mr. Haizlip used his program to show Black talent in positive ways.

OK – 3/10/14

Mr. Soul! is a movie about Ellis Haizlip’s life as the creator, co-host and producer of an TV show featuring Black performers called SOUL!. It tells the story of Haizlip, the show, and the talent he showcased. You hear about his life and accomplishments from the performers he had on SOUL! and from his friends. You also see different footage from SOUL!, and pictures from Haizlip’s  personal life. The documentary also demonstrates how Haizlip went from being the producer of the show to also hosting it.

The main character is Ellis Haizlip. I love how kind he was and how he always made SOUL! fun for everyone. He gave so many differaent people opportunities to show off their talents on SOUL!. The director, Melissa Haizlip, is a talented storyteller. She uses different elements such as a narrator (Blair Underwood), videos from SOUL!, interviews from the shows’ guests, and testimonies from his friends to tell Mr. Haizlip’s incredible story. The movie includes great music from different Black culture genres such as Gospel and R&B. There are incredible dance numbers and bands shown that were also on the show. The film has some funny parts, and it will take you through different emotions, which makes it more interesting. I was incredibly surprised to learn that Mr. Haizlip was a television host before Oprah Winfrey and that he was a musician before he became a TV host.

The message of this film is that anything is possible and that sometimes you have to take risks to get where you want to be in life. For example, when Mr. Haizlip’s friend decided not to host the show anymore, Mr. Haizlip took a risk and became the host and made history. Parents might need to look out for the use of the “N-word” in the beginning in a short video clip from one of the show’s acts and mentions of suicide.

I rate Mr. Soul! 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids 13 to 18. Adults will love it as well! You can find Mr.  Soul! playing in the America Black Film Festival, October, 2020

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