Streaming: Mr. SOUL!

August 28–October 29, 2020

Mr. SOUL! revives an extraordinary, revolutionary piece of Black history.

David Alm, Forbes

Harry Belafonte, Kathleen Cleaver, Carmen de Lavallade, Nikki Giovanni,

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Free Playback
Melissa Haizlip and Ryanaustin Dennis
Recorded Tuesday, September 1, 6 PM PDT

Watch a live conversation and Q&A with Melissa Haizlip, the director of Mr. SOUL!, and Ryanaustin Dennis, the cocurator of BAMPFA’s Black Life series.

While cinemas are shuttered and audiences sheltering in the glow of small screens are confronted with an inexhaustible deluge of dubious content, it is instructive to reflect on a moment when one television program became an indispensable transformative force. Mr. SOUL! chronicles the visionary producer Ellis Haizlip and SOUL!, the groundbreaking show he created. Offered the opportunity to create a Black Tonight Show, Haizlip, then active in the Black Arts Movement, insisted that it be something deeper, more dynamic and radical. Aired on public television from 1968 to 1973, the revolutionary program presented a stunning array of performers, writers, and activists—Al Green, Amiri Baraka, Gladys Knight, Kathleen Cleaver, James Baldwin, Sonia Sanchez, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and many others—to viewers nationwide. Mr. SOUL! is generously illustrated with excerpts from the show’s remarkable history along with a chorus of contemporary reflections from critics and participants in its making, as well as the words of Haizlip himself, who described SOUL! as a forum for Black people “creating, searching, and acting instead of researching and reacting. . . . There is no alternative to SOUL!”

Kate MacKay
  • Melissa Haizlip
  • Hans Charles
Print Info
  • B&W/Color
  • Digital streaming
  • 99 mins
  • Open Your Eyes and Think