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Silverdocs Documentary FF

Online Dailies Coverage of SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival taking place June 21-27, 2010 at the AFI Silver Theater


Muhammad Ali In The Spotlight


by Sandy Mandelberger, Festival Dailies Editor

Perhaps it is only a coincidence or a kind of cinematic convergence that sometimes happens at a film festival, but the boxing legend Muhammad Ali is the subject (or at least the subtext) of several of the most anticipated films showing here at the Silverdocs Documentary Film Festival.

The three-time World Heavyweight Champion and one of the most colorful sports figures of the past 50 years is the focus of FACING ALI, which received its East Coast Premiere on Tuesday evening to thunderous acclaim. The film assembles ten of Ali's boxing rivals, including Ken Norton, Earnie Shavers, Joe Frazier, George  Foreman, Leon Spinks and Larry Holmes, who pay tribute to the legendary Ali. As the boxers each recount their pivotal experiences in the ring with Ali, they also provide snapshots of their own remarkable careers and a unique insight into a man who remains one of the most prominent figures in sports history. The film is directed by Pete McCormack, an award-winning filmmaker, novelist, screenwriter, musician and producer. His original music graces FACING ALI, a fascinating portrait of the man and the legend. For more information on the film, visit the website:

That legend was partially formed in 1974 in the celebrated "rumble in the jungle", when Ali faced off against George Foreman in the African nation of Zaire. In WHEN WE WERE KINGS, director Leon Gast filmed both the fight and the music festival organized by promoter Don King. However, his footage was shelved for 22 years and was only released in 1996. With a new film print courteosy of the Academy Film Archive, the film is a fascinating document of one of the greatest and most hyped sporting and cultural eevents in recent history.

That celebrated match also is the subject of the new film SOUL POWER, which specifically chronicles the all-star music festival that preceded the fight. The brainchild of South African musician Hugh Masekela and American record producer Stewart Levine, the three-day event assembled some of the biggest names in American rhythm and blues music and contemporary African music, including such legendary performers as James Brown, B.B. King, Bill Withers, The Spinners, Miriam Makeba and Afrisa. The festival and film footage were financed by a Liberian investment group that became hindered by legal disputes and consequently the film footage remained in the can for more than two decades. This lost film was eventually resurrected by Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, a New York based producer. The never-seen footage of the dynamic performances and new interviews with Muhammad Ali make this a glorious time capsule.

Silverdocs embraces the Ali legend and the other superstars that were part of his most celebrated champion fight into what is an Ali love fest.


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About Silverdocs Documentary FF

Sandy Mandelberger
(International Media Resources)

Online Dailies Coverage of SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival, taking place at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland from June 21 to 27, 2010.

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