Muhammad Ali and George Foreman's 1974 fight in Kinshasa—the "Rumble in the Jungle"—was an instant legend, but no less momentous was the music festival that accompanied it. A forceful and exuberant declaration of ethnic empowerment, Zaïre 74 brought together some of the best African-American and native African soul musicians—Soul Brother Number One, James Brown, B.B. King, Bill Withers, Miriam Makeba, Celia Cruz, The Crusaders, Sister Sledge, and others—for three days of electrifying, at times explosive performances.
The festival was documented by a bevy of cameraman, including the great Albert Maysles (The Gates, TFF '07), working in a Direct Cinema style that brings us right into the heady mix of the event's organizational issues, the potent ideologies espoused by the various participants, and the incredible response from the local audience. After lying unedited for years, the footage, along with stellar audio recordings, now bursts back into life on-screen, a reminder of an era and movement that shaped this country's history and a celebration of the sheer power of music. A Sony Pictures Classics presentation.
Jeff Levy-Hinte is the president of Antidote Films in New York. Alongside Soul Power, he recently completed Dungeon Masters and is preparing production for The Kids Are All Right, written and to be directed by Lisa Cholodenko. He recently produced Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, which was broadcast on HBO and released theatrically. He has also produced the acclaimed eco-horror thriller The Last Winter, the documentary Bomb It, which premiered at the Festival in 2007, The Hawk Is Dying, Mysterious Skin, Thirteen, and Laurel Canyon. Jeff also edited the 1996 Academy Award®-winning documentary When We Were Kings.