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Documentary Feature

Mr. Soul - Invitational Film Selection
USA, 2018, 90 min., Color, English
Before Oprah, before Arsenio, there was Mr. SOUL. On the heels of the Civil Rights Movement, one fearless black pioneer reconceived a Harlem Renaissance for a new era, ushering giants and rising stars of black American culture onto the national television stage. He was hip. He was smart. He was innovative, political, and gay. In his personal fight for social equality, the man ensured the Revolution would be televised. He was Ellis Haizlip. The Revolution was SOUL.

Director Bio
Samuel has collaborated extensively with many filmmakers, bringing programming that illuminates the Black experience in America to both television and theatrical audiences for over twenty-five years. He recently directed the documentaries AUGUST WILSON: THE GROUND ON WHICH I STAND for American Masters and edited FRANK SINATRA: ALL OR NOTHING AT ALL for HBO. Pollard produced and directed SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME (Sundance 2012, PBS) and edited JOE PAPP IN FIVE ACTS (Tribeca 2012). He edited the Spike Lee documentaries WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE: A REQUIEM IN FOUR ACTS, IF GOD IS WILLING AND DA CREEK DON’T RISE, and FOUR LITTLE GIRLS (HBO); INSIDE MAN, CLOCKERS, JUNGLE FEVER, and MO’ BETTER BLUES. He edited BY THE PEOPLE: THE ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA and CHISHOLM ’72: UNBOUGHT AND UNBOSSED. For PBS, he produced a segment of “The Blues” series directed by Martin Scorsese, “The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow,” and “Eyes On The Prize: The Civil Rights Years.” Pollard has served on the faculty of New York University for over twenty years.

Melissa is an award-winning filmmaker born in Boston and raised in the US Virgin Islands, Connecticut and New York. Melissa is the 2016 Artist in Residence at the National Black Programming Consortium, and participated in the 2015 NALIP ARC Diverse Women In Media Residency. She is a Chaz and Roger Ebert Producing Fellow, and an alumnus of Film Independent’s Project: Involve, Firelight Media Documentary Lab, and the PGA Diversity Workshop. Melissa attended Yale University. She produced YOU’RE DEAD TO ME (2013) directed by Wu Tsang, about a grieving Chicana mother coming to terms with the loss of her transgender child on Día de los Muertos. The film won Best Short at the 2014 Imagen Awards, Reel Sisters of the Diaspora, Everybody’s Beautiful (Geneva), LesGaiCine Madrid, and Reel Rasquache Art & Film Festival (Los Angeles). It has screened at over 50 festivals and museums, including the PBS Online Film Festival, the British Museum, Outfest, Frameline38, Palm Springs International ShortFest, San Diego Latino Film Festival, MIX New York, Mexico, and Brasil, Can[Be]Gay (Tenerife, Spain), LA ShortsFest, HollyShorts, and the NYWIFT Women Calling the Shots program at Hamptons International Film Festival. In 2009, Melissa founded Shoes In The Bed Productions, an independent film production company producing cinematic works of non-fiction with an emphasis on diverse new voices and filmmakers of color. The company's first feature-length documentary, Mr. SOUL! screened a work-in-progress at IFP’s Spotlight on Documentaries during Independent Film Week, and at the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award. Melissa’s two-channel art films have been funded and exhibited by the Hammer Museum’s Los Angeles Biennial, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and the Clifton Benevento Gallery in SoHo. Melissa received a 2016 JustFilms Grant from the Ford Foundation, the 2015 Media Projects Production Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the 2015 Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund Grant from the International Documentary Association for Mr. SOUL! She has also received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, ITVS, National Black Programming Consortium, Firelight Media, Awesome Without Borders, support from IFP and Latino Public Broadcasting. She is currently in production on Mr. SOUL! and the sci-fi feature A DAY IN THE LIFE OF BLISS directed by Wu Tsang.