Tag Archives: Writers Guild Theater


Ellis Haizlip—black, gay, and deeply invested in the African-American liberation and equality movements of the 1960s and ’70s—was the producer and host of the short-lived but seminal public television show Soul!, which aired from 1968 to 1973. Sui generis in its approach and impact, Haizlip’s Soul! gave black voices an unprecedented platform at a crucial time.

Directors Melissa Haizlip and Sam Pollard have brought the life and work of this catalyst to a new generation with the documentary MR. SOUL!, screening this week at the LA Film Festival in its local premiere.

Included in the film are rare interviews and performances by James Baldwin, Nikki Giovanni, Harry BelafonteAl Green, Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Odetta, Stokely CarmichaelMerry Clayton, Betty Shabazz, George Faison, Toni Morrison, Patti LaBelle, The Last Poets, and many more.



Wednesday, September 26, at 7:30 pm.

Writers Guild Theater, 135 South Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills.

Above: Ellis Haizlip interviews Melvin Van Peebles in 1971. Soul! director Stan Lathan looks over a camera operator’s head.

Below: Haizlip, Kathleen Cleaver of the Black Panthers, and a Soul! sound engineer.

Photographs © Chester Higgins Jr.


In 1931, the twenty-four-year-old Parisian thief Henri Charrière was railroaded on a murder charge and sent to French Guiana to do hard time.

His tales of incarceration, solitary confinement, escape, recapture, and eventual freedom were published in the 1969 nonfiction novel PAPILLON, an international bestseller centered on the relationship between Charrière (nicknamed “Papillon”; see sternum tattoo) and Louis Dega, a counterfeiter—and “soft” inmate—who befriended Papi for protection in exchange for Dega’s cash.

In a comedic, free-wheeling post-screening conversation this week with Elvis Mitchell of Film Independent at the Writers Guild, director Michael Noer talked about his new version of the book (previously filmed in 1973) as a “coming-of-age” story, a “love story between two men who are totally different, who are dealing with chaos and disorder.”

In the remake, Charlie Hunnam makes a visceral physical impact in the title role, and Rami Malek ably embodies Dega. Convict-turned-award-winning-actor Roland Møller (memorable in Land of Mine) lends an additional level of realism to a film that spares little in its depiction of the degradations of prison life.

PAPILLON, now playing.



Top: Charlie Hunnam (right) as “Papi” and Michael Socha as Julot in Papillon.

Above: Roland Møller as Celier.

Below: Hunnam, director Michael Noer, and Rami Malek on the set.