Coming to select theatres and to virtual cinemas this Friday, August 28:
Hot Docs, True/False, AFI Docs, New Orleans, Rotterdam, Durban, BlackStar, Urbanworld, Pan African, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, London, Indie Memphis, Woodstock, Heartland
A portrait of the pioneer behind SOUL!, the acclaimed African-American public television cultural variety show.
Between 1968-1973, NYC’s public television station produced SOUL!, a weekly performance-oriented variety program made by and primarily for African-American audiences. The show quickly grew in popularity, drawing regular viewership by more than half of African-American households across the nation. At the heart of SOUL! was its creator and host, Ellis Haizlip, whose forward thinking approach to shining the spotlight on Black culture introduced audiences to a wide range of artists and thinkers, from popular singers and avant-garde jazz performers to outspoken poets and controversial political activists. Haizlip emerges as an intriguing, singular figure, an openly gay man who rejected the showboating of the traditional host role but whose insightful interviewing skills and curatorial acumen gave the program its revolutionary edge. Here, his niece, Melissa Haizlip, crafts an illuminating and fascinating portrait not only of her uncle, but of his landmark program, fondly remembered by a generation influenced by its positive representation and message of uplift and excellence – but largely unknown to viewers who came of age after 1973, when political pressures from the Nixon administration forced its cancellation. This portrait, with its extensive footage from the show, helps re-establish SOUL!’s vital position in cultural history.