Melissa Haizlip

MELISSA HAIZLIP is an award-winning filmmaker born in Boston and raised in the US Virgin Islands, Connecticut and New York. Melissa is an alumnus of Firelight Doc Lab, Film Independent’s Project: Involve, and PGA Diversity Workshop. She is a Flaherty Fellow, Artist in Residence at Black Public Media, ARC NALIP Diverse Women In Media Residency fellow, and Chaz and Roger Ebert Producing Fellow. Melissa attended Yale University. She produced YOU’RE DEAD TO ME (2013), about a grieving Chicana mother coming to terms with the loss of her transgender child on Día de los Muertos. The film won the 2014 Imagen Award for Best Short, and has screened at over 50 festivals and museums.

Melissa’s feature documentary, Mr. SOUL! is a finalist for the 2019 inaugural Lavine / Ken Burns Prize for Film, presented by the Library of Congress and the Better Angels Society. The film won Best Music Documentary at the 2018 International Documentary Association Awards. An IFP Spotlight on Documentaries alum, Mr. SOUL! premiered at Tribeca 2018, HOT DOCS, British Film Institute, and AFI DOCS at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Oprah Winfrey Theatre, where it won the Audience Award for Best Feature. Mr. SOUL! screened at 50 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.

Melissa’s two-channel art films have been exhibited by the Hammer Museum’s Los Angeles Biennial, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and Clifton Benevento Gallery, SoHo, NY. Melissa has received grants from Firelight Media, Ford Foundation’s JustFilms, National Endowment for the Humanities, IDA’s Pare Lorentz Grant, National Endowment for the Arts, Black Public Media, ITVS, Awesome Without Borders and Puffin Foundation. Melissa has served on review panels for the NEH and the Maysles Brothers Doc Jury at Denver Film Festival. Melissa directed and produced CONTACT HIGH: A VISUAL HISTORY OF HIP-HOP for the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles, and is a consulting producer on an original four-part docuseries for Netflix.



Program Affiliation

Documentary Lab

Cohort Year



Documentary Lab

Other Filmakers