HHFF 2019 Press Release: Opening Night

Opening Night With Mr. Soul

Durham, NC, January 7, 2019 –The Hayti Heritage Cultural Center through St. Joseph’s
Historic Foundation, is proud to present the 24th Hayti Heritage Film Festival. The annual event, one of the nation’s longest-running Black film festivals, runs from February 14-16, 2018. All films will be shown at the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation/Hayti Heritage Center at 804 Old Fayetteville Rd in Durham, NC.

For the second consecutive year filmmaker Lana Garland will serve as festival director and curator. Garland is the Executive Producer of production company Insibah Media, and a Fulbright educator in film. “We are creating a robust program that includes some of the most innovative Black films of the past few years, films from the local community, and an opening night that celebrates the proud history of Black Durham through music, film and photographs,” shares Garland. “We believe in the power of images and image-makers to transform communities by curating artistic, informative, and innovative films by African American filmmakers, and by providing a platform for exhibition for these artists who oftentimes struggle to get film distribution.”

The festival opens on Thursday, February 14th with a screening of the film Mr. Soul, a 2018 documentary directed by Melissa Haizlip and legendary filmmaker Samuel D. Pollard. The award-winning film celebrates the groundbreaking PBS series “Mr. Soul” from its genesis to its eventual loss of funding against the backdrop of a swiftly changing political and social landscape, while profiling Ellis Haizlip, the charismatic man behind one of the most culturally significant and successful television shows in U.S. history. All -Access Festival Tickets are currently on sale with single day passes available on January 20 when the final film schedule is announced.

Mr. Soul Opening Night Film

Directors: Melissa Haizlip, Samuel D. Pollard

Trailer: https://dai.ly/x6i4t4t


  • AFI Docs Festival 2018: Winner – Audience Award, Feature Documentary
  • Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival 2018: Winner – Best Documentary Feature.
  • Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival 2018: Nominee
  • Top 20 Audience Favorites (#15)
  • Indie Memphis Film Festival 2018: Winner – Best Sounds Feature
  • International Documentary Association 2018: Winner – Best Music Documentary
  • (tied)
  • Woodstock Film Festival 2018: Winner – Audience Award, Best Documentary Feature

The film celebrates the groundbreaking PBS series Mr. Soul from its genesis to its eventual loss of funding against the backdrop of a swiftly changing political and social landscape, while profiling Ellis Haizlip, the charismatic man behind one of the most culturally significant and successful television shows in U.S. history Ellis Haizlip was the producer and host of SOUL!, the first black arts television showcase of its kind.

Conceived in 1968 as the first “black Tonight Show,” SOUL! launched as a local, New York broadcast. By 1973, Haizlip had produced over 130 Emmy Award-winning, nationally-broadcast shows for WNET/PBS featuring a staggering array of A-list guests: Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Earth, Wind & Fire, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni and Muhammad Ali. Even a 16 year-old Arsenio Hall made his television debut performing magic tricks.


Two Guys from Durm

A conversation with Bruce Frances Cole and Kevin Wilson Jr.

Bruce Francis Cole is a cinematographer who lives in both NY and LA and works globally. Early in his childhood he was an exceptional student in the form of visual art. Raised in the inner-city, his art carried him to places beyond his immediate surroundings. After traveling around America working for non-profit social justice programs and inspired by the late Haskell Wexler, he decided to explore film as an art form. Eventually after studying cinematography at both UNCSA (David Gordon Green, Jeff Nichols) and The American Film Institute, he worked his way up from electrician to gaffer and eventually DP. He lensed two films in this year’s festival, JINN and Solace.

Kevin Wilson Jr. is a Durham, NC native and filmmaker, best known for his film, My Nephew Emmett, for which he received critical acclaim. For this film he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Live Action Short Film in 2018.


While I Breathe, I Hope

Trailer https://binged.it/2F9ZmMH

Charming and eloquent, Bakari Sellers has you at hello. The youngest black man to be

elected to South Carolina legislature, he is now running for Lt. Governor. Witness the

victories and defeats, as well as the insidious racism that continues to plague the South, and how Sellers handles it with grace. This is one man’s effort to make a difference in a culture where many are clinging to the past while others continue to suffer from it.

Director: Emily Harrold

Producers: Diane Robertson (Durham, NC Based), Lauren Franklin, Xuan Vu

Cinematographers: Alexander J. Hufschmid, Kyle I Kelley, Kelly Creedon

Editor: Xuan Vu.


About Hayti Heritage Center and Hayti Heritage Film Festival:

Hayti, under the guidance of the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation, presents The 25th annual Hayti Heritage Film Festival as a signature event each year to keep Black film alive. New and veteran artists screen films before a diverse crowd of film enthusiasts while vendors provide great food, beverages, arts and crafts. The Center preserves and advances the heritage and culture of the historic Hayti community in Durham, NC and the African American experience through programs that benefit the broader community locally, nationally and globally.