Melissa Haizlip's film focuses on Ellis Haizlip, creator of the groundbreaking TV show SOUL!
MR. SOUL!, a film about television host Ellis Haizlip, who created the pioneering black arts and culture show SOUL!, has won Best Documentary Feature at aGLIFF -- the All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival -- in Austin, Texas. It also took the audience award for documentary.
Melissa Haizlip, Ellis' niece, and Sam Pollard directed the film about the influential TV personality, whose show aired from 1968-1973. SOUL! featured timely discussions of race and politics, guests like Muhammad Ali, James Baldwin, Cicely Tyson, Sidney Poitier and Toni Morrison, and musical artists including Earth, Wind and Fire and Al Green.
He was hip. He was smart. He was innovative, political and gay.
According to the film's website, Haizlip's weekly late night show was "part nightclub, part salon, it was precedent-setting and bar-raising: an Afrocentric television variety showcase created by a black man, produced by a an all-black production team, and targeting a nationwide, black American audience."
MR. SOUL! debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in April and will next play later this month at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
aGLIFF awarded additional prizes, including a Special Jury Mention to James Erskine's documentary The Ice King. The film tells the story of Olympic Gold Medalist John Curry, considered by many to be the greatest male ice skater in history. He was also the first openly gay Olympian.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.