The Trials of Muhammad Ali

Kartemquin Films & Kat White   |   USA

The Trials of Muhammad Ali explores Ali's lifelong journey of spiritual transformation. From his Louisville roots, through his years in exile, to receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Trials traces Ali's path from poet to pariah to global ambassador for peace. At each stage, the challenges Ali faces go far beyond the boxing ring and ultimately encompass the issues of power, race, faith, and identity that confront us all. Ali's boxing matches bear political and cultural significance, paralleling his fights outside the ring. Physically and verbally, Ali fights back, defending his religion and name change. To punctuate importance of these moments, we layer commentary by figures like Malcolm X, who references "historic things taking place ... not a heavyweight championship fight physically, there was more to it." For footage quality and accuracy, we pursued primary sources, many times forgoing talking heads for archival footage that showed, not told. In general, we undertook an exhaustive archival footage search, uncovering gems that oftentimes had not been seen in more than 50 years.