He floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee. He was so mean he made medicine sick. He's the only person to ever beat Superman. The June 3 death of boxer Muhammad Ali from Parkinson’s-related complications left another hole in this death-speckled year. To pay tribute to the man, the myth, the legend, the Sie FilmCenter will screen Leon Gast’s (The Grateful Dead, Manny) Ali documentary When We Were Kings on Tuesday, June 28.
Gast’s 1996 documentary uses the highly anticipated 1974 boxing match between Ali and George Foreman as the strike point of the then-32-year-old fighter’s prime. The film introduces promoter Don King as a force to be reckoned with and dives into what happened in a globally watched fight with giant egos all around. The film took home an Academy Award for Best Documentary and marks one of the most thorough and illuminating documentaries on the late boxer and the impact his wisdom and soul had on his public persona and legacy.
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A portion of ticket sales from the screening, on 35mm film, will be donated to a local charity, and an additional screen will be open at the Sie so that at-risk and minority youth can see the film for free.
“We want to celebrate the life and legacy of Ali, a man who truly was 'the greatest' both [inside] and outside of the ring," says Denver Film Society programming manager Ernie Quiroz. “He stood up against racism, he stood up against the war, he stood for social change. That's the legacy we want to honor, and if we can raise some money for charity, then we've honored him just a little bit.
“More important, we want to introduce him to a new generation of kids, kids who don't know about Ali yet, kids who will be the ones that can hear his message and continue the change he helped to bring about. The film captures Ali at his height, both in terms of his fame and his physicality. He was stripped of his title and forced from boxing for three years, but he didn't whine or complain. Instead he focused on working against the war, promoting civil rights and, when his three years were up, stepped back into the ring and, against all odds, with no one believing he could do it, he earned back what was wrongfully taken from him.”
Tickets for the regular general-admission screening of When We Were Kings are available at denverfilm.org. Tickets are $11 ($7 for Film Society members). If you would like your group or family to be part of the free screening, contact Quiroz at firstname.lastname@example.org. The screening will be at 7:30 p.m. at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue.