Brash boxer Cassius Clay burst into the American consciousness in the early 1960s, just ahead of the Civil Rights movement. His transformation into the spiritually enlightened heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali is legendary. This religious awakening also led to a bitter legal battle with the U.S. government after the superstar refused to serve in the Vietnam War. The film reveals the perfect storm of race, religion and politics that helped shape one of the most recognized figures in sports history.
Directed by Bill Siegel and executive produced by Academy Award®-winner Leon Gast, The Trials of Muhammad Ali is not merely a boxing documentary, but rather an examination of a specific time in America in which many of its citizens were ridiculed, jailed or exiled for choosing to stand up for their beliefs. Pulling no punches when dealing with the atmosphere of the time, the film boasts an amazing array of interviews from those who were there, including Ali’s family members, notable journalists and the current, controversial leader of the Nation of Islam, Rev. Dr. Louis Farrakhan. The electrifying persona of Muhammad Ali guides the story through a wealth of remarkable archival footage.
BILL SIEGEL has more than twenty years of experience in documentary filmmaking and education. He co-directed the Oscar®-nominated documentary The Weather Underground and worked on Muhammad Ali: The Whole Story, Hoop Dreams and One Love. He is vice president of school programs for the Great Books Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to literacy and lifelong learning.
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