Winner 2021

Mr. SOUL!

Shoes In The Bed Productions, ITVS, Black Public Media (BPM), WNET

A joyful tribute to the local television program SOUL! and its creator, the impresario Ellis Haizlip, the documentary film Mr. SOUL! is a loving celebration of Black creative achievement and vitality in late twentieth-century America, capturing the majesty, confidence, and revolutionary force of Black artists, intellectuals, writers, and performers. The time between 1968 and 1972 was an extraordinary period in American broadcast television and cultural history, and Haizlip’s SOUL!, which was produced and aired on WNET-National Education Television in New York, was uncompromisingly and unapologetically Black, serving as the visual and sonic soundtrack of Black Americans at their most radical. In Mr. SOUL!’s magnificent rendering, we feel Haizlip’s deep commitment to Black expressive culture, and come to understand his maverick vision for the role of public television in circulating and engaging with Blackness. The film enlists Haizlip as our guide to experiencing the rich critiques, insights, and visions of the diverse range of Black creatives featured on the show. Indeed, Mr. SOUL! reckons with the history and promise of early public television while providing a stunning inventory of the astounding range of Black creative expression. Haizlip’s SOUL!, the film contends, boldly took on some of the most controversial issues facing Black Americans at the time, not content to settle for respectability politics or uplift ideology. In the filmmakers’ hands, Mr. SOUL! respectfully and carefully mines this heretofore neglected, but essential repository of mid-century Black American imagination and creativity, and centers it as indispensable in our understanding and appreciation of American media history. For this remarkable achievement, we are proud to present Mr. SOUL! with a Peabody Award. 

Shoes In The Bed Productions, ITVS, Black Public Media (BPM) (PBS)

PRIMARY PRODUCTION CREDITS

Network/Station/Platform:  PBS. Executive Producers:  Chaz Ebert, Stan Lathan, Blair Underwood, Sally Jo Fifer, Lois Vossen. Producer:  Melissa Haizlip. Co-Producer:  Doug Blush. Director:  Melissa Haizlip. Co-Director:  Sam Pollard. Writer:  Melissa Haizlip. Editors:  Giovanni P. Autran, Annukka Lilja, Blair McClendon. Associate Producers: Vince Johnson, Leonard Joseph, David Magdael. Supervising Producer: Amy Shatsky. Photography:  Hans Charles. Sound/Music:  Robert Glasper, Ed Gerrard.