Melissa Haizlip



MELISSA HAIZLIP (Producer | Director | Writer) is an award-winning filmmaker based in New York.

Her work responds to pressing social issues at the intersection of racial justice, social justice, activism, and representation. Music, female transformation and empowerment are at the core of all of her ideas, with the goal being to advocate and amplify the voices of women and people of color. Melissa’s feature documentary, Mr. SOUL!, has been shortlisted for the Oscars, for Best Original Song. The film is nominated for three NAACP Image Awards, including Outstanding Documentary (Film), Outstanding Writing in a Documentary (Television or Motion Picture), and Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Motion Picture). Mr. SOUL! won the 2020 Critics Choice Award for Best First Documentary Feature. It was a finalist for the 2019 inaugural Library of Congress Lavine / Ken Burns Prize for Film, a new, annual prize that recognizes a filmmaker whose documentary uses original research and compelling narrative to tell stories that touch on some aspect of American history. Mr. SOUL!  won Best Music Documentary at the 2018 International Documentary Association Awards. Mr. SOUL! premiered in virtual cinemas last month. The film world premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and screened at 50 film festivals, receiving 16 Jury and Audience Awards for Best Documentary, and the 2019 FOCAL Award for Best Use of Archival Footage in an Entertainment Production. Mr. SOUL! has received 32 Nominations and won 19 awards including 14 film festival awards.

Melissa directed and produced CONTACT HIGH: A VISUAL HISTORY OF HIP-HOP and 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, and screened at over 50 festivals and museums worldwide including the PBS Online Short Film Festival. Melissa’s two-channel art films have been exhibited by the Hammer Museum Los Angeles Biennial, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Melissa has been awarded grants from the Ford Foundation JustFilms, National Endowment for the Humanities, International Documentary Association, National Endowment for the Arts, Black Public Media, Firelight Media, ITVS, Awesome Without Borders, Puffin Foundation and the Better Angels Society. Melissa went to Yale University, has sat on review panels for the National Endowment for the Humanities, film festival juries and the IDA Documentary Awards jury. She has just been elected to the Board of Directors of the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, New York. Melissa is currently co-executive producing a docuseries for Netflix on the history of Black womanhood in America, explored through the lens of women in hip-hop, their lives and their music.

Featured image: Melissa Haizlip