The film “Mr Soul!” chronicles the legacy of “SOUL!”, the public television variety show produced and hosted by Ellis Haizlip (the director’s uncle) that turned a spotlight on the Black Arts Movement. Enhancing the picture are music composed by Grammy-winner Robert Glasper as well as narration from Blair Underwood, who also serves as one of the film’s executive producers. In his four-star review of the film published on this site, our critic Glenn Kenny wrote that “the clips from the show—and seriously, can someone assemble the entire series and get it on streaming, or physical media somehow—reveal it as a phantasmagoria of Black excellence.” The film recently premiered nationwide on Independent Lens, PBS during Black History Month and is streaming on the PBS app.
Robert Glasper and Lalah Hathaway, daughter of soul legend Donny Hathaway, have just debuted today the exclusive video for their song from the film, “Show Me Your Soul,” which is a contender in the Best Original Song category and is on the Oscar shortlist (view it below).
Representatives of the Black Arts Movement who appeared on “SOUL!” were timeless talents the likes of Patti LaBelle, Harry Belafonte, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Sidney Poitier, The Last Poets, Gladys Knight, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Nikki Giovanni, Muhammad Ali, Cicely Tyson, Earth Wind & Fire, Ashford & Simpson, Roberta Flack, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, Billy Preston, Black Ivory, The Delfonics, Bill Withers, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Sonia Sanchez, Wilson Pickett, Odetta, Merry Clayton, Mandrill, Kool & the Gang, Toni Morrison, Kathleen Cleaver, Betty Shabazz, Stokely Carmichael, Mrs. Georgia Jackson, and George Faison. During a time period when African-Americans were not routinely featured prominently on television except in negative stereotypes, this program blazed new trails for representation during its run from 1968 through 1973.
The film’s distributors, Shoes In The Bed Productions and Open Your Eyes & Think MF, are proud to announce the continuing virtual cinema release in 25 cinemas celebrating its seventh month in release (for a full list of showtimes, click here). Last September marked the 52nd anniversary of the premiere episode of SOUL! on September 12th, 1968. From that day forward, Ellis Haizlip and his inclusive crew of Black and mostly women producers, directors, crew and guest artists made history every week. And now, through this film, Ellis still continues to inspire and instill pride into new generations of fans. As he states in the film, “Black seeds keep on growing,” the time is now, and is most important.