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Three-time World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali defeated almost every top fighter of the golden age of boxing and symbolized the sport for generations of fans. Now, ten of his acclaimed rivals pay tribute to perhaps the worlds most beloved and inspiring athlete in FACING ALI, a riveting documentary from director Pete McCormack (Uganda Rising) and producer Derik Murray (Legends of Hockey).
Thomas Hauser provides an updated retrospective of Ali's life. Relying on personal insights, interviews with close associates and other contemporaries of Ali, and memories gathered over the course of decades on the cutting edge of boxing journalism, Hauser explores Ali in detail inside and outside the ring.Muhammad Ali has attained mythical status. But in recent years, he has been subjected to an image makeover by corporate America as it seeks to homogenise the electrifying nature of his persona. Hauser argues that there has been a deliberate distortion of what Ali believed, said, and stood for, and that making Ali more presentable for advertising purposes by sanitising his legacy is a disservice to history and to Ali himself.
A dynamic author-illustrator team follows the threetime heavyweight champ through twelve rounds of a remarkable life. "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. . . . I'm the prettiest thing that ever lived!" From the moment a fired-up teenager from Kentucky won 1960 Olympic gold to the day in 1996 when a retired legend, hands shaking from Parkinson's, returned to raise the Olympic torch, the boxer known as "The Greatest" waged many a fight.
What makes a good documentary film? The essential element of a good documentary is simply, the story. The audience must have an intellectual and emotional tie to the film. The audience must have a “pull” to get to the end of the film, not an excuse to get away from it.
Documentaries have been there since time immemorial. However, defining what they are wont hurt. Documentary films are non-fictional motion pictures which are intended to document some aspect of the truth, or reality basically for education, instruction, or even maintaining a historical record.
It according to filmmakers a filmmaking practice, a mode of audience reception, and a cinematic tradition. However, over time, documentaries have continually evolved, and to this day, there are no precise boundaries.
Isn’t that a question for the ages?
We work in a building with some of the greatest, most creative documentary filmmakers in Canada, so we decided to put the question to them.
Here are some of their answers:
A great documentary crafts a compelling cinematic portrait of the heart and soul of people’s lives and inspires us to see the world with greater clarity and compassion. Great documentaries remind us that our lives are complex, tragic, funny and magnificent and that it’s always worth waking up for another kick at the can.
–Garry Beitel, director (The Socalled Movie, Nothing Sacred)
1.What makes a documentary a documentary?
The voiceover will usually be authoritative in some way, encouraging the audience to think that they either have some kind of specialist knowledge or, as in the case of people like Michael Moore and Nick Broomfield: ‘the right’ opinions that people should pay attention to.
Documentary is essentially seen as ‘non-fiction’ although there are debates around this.
However, a convention of documentary is that all events presented to us are to be seen as ‘real’ by the audience.
Documentarians often go to great lengths to convince us that the footage is real and unaltered in anyway, although editing and voiceover can affect the ‘reality’ we, as viewers, see.
4. Technicality of realism
Including ‘natural’ sound and lighting (note Nick Broomfield’s use of this in ‘Biggie and Tupac’ when they ‘run out’ of sound!)
5. Archive footage/stills
To aid authenticity and to add further information which the film maker may be unable to obtain themselves.
6. Interviews with ‘experts’
Used to authenticate the views expressed in the documentary. Sometimes, they will disagree with the message of the documentary, although the film maker will usually disprove them in some way.
7. Use of text/titles
Text watch out for the use of words on screen to anchor images in time and space. Labels, dates etc tend to be believed unquestioningly and are a quick and cheap way of conveying information.
Sound Listen out for the use of non-diegetic sound. Has music been added? Why what effects does it have? Is sound used as a bridge between scenes and if so what meanings are made?
For example look at “Supersize me” – how does the use of childish music undermine McDonalds?
9. Set - ups
Not just reconstructions of events that happened in the past but also setting up 'typical' scenes. So if you want to quickly convey 'classroom' you might ask a class to put their hands up like there's a lesson going on and the teacher's just asked a question. Strictly speaking what you're showing is not 'true' the teacher didn't ask a question, but it is a way of cheaply getting footage a crew might have had to wait fifteen minutes for if they had just waited for it to happen 'naturally'. There is an issue here however because if crews make a habit of using set ups they will only be using images of 'reality' that audiences already recognise (confirming stereotypes perhaps) and producing fresh images/ ideas about 'reality' will be impossible. There's a sort of vicious cycle here. If I show you radically different images from inside a school you may reject them as atypical or 'unreal' but if I can only offer you a 'reality' you already know about how can I change your opinions?
10. Visual Coding
Visual Coding Things like mise en scene and props. Is that doctor any less a doctor if she's not in a white coat and wearing a stethoscope? Has someone been ambushed in the street to make them look shifty?
1. Sport Documentaries Conventions & Examples Jordan Nettley
2. Setting • The setting varies on the type of sport that is being focused on. For example, if the documentary is about Football, the setting would probably be set around a Football Stadium or a Football training complex.
3. Technical Codes • POV shots are important to the audience. They move into the perspective of the sportsperson and see the game in their eyes, this can create the emotion for the audience as well as looking at the sport at different angles to see how technical it is for the athlete.
If the focus is on the individual, it tends to vary from him playing the sport, training for the sport, recovering/pre- paring from/for the sport and being interviewed. • The individual focussed on tends to be a very highly rated player – e.g. Cristiano Ronaldo – who is very good at his profession. The individual tends to be the ‘hero’ of a team.
FACING ALI is a fantastic documentary that is a befitting tribute to the man who is undeniably "The Greatest", Muhammad Ali. I absolutely loved this "career biography" that is told by some of his most significant former opponents like Joe Frazier and George Foreman. It is easy to see why Ali is the Greatest Fighter of all time.
The documentary besides giving some inside revelations on the fights of those 10 men with Ali also gives some insight into the boxing careers and lives of the 10 boxers who are commenting on Ali. Some of their personal stories are pretty sad.
The documentary also covers what I found surprising statements from George Chuvalo concerning "mob" influenced events that led to the Chuvalo/Ali fight. I was also surprised by one of the fighters who was viciously verbally taunted by Ali in the days leading up to their fight come very close in the documentary to breaking down crying over Ali's present day condition.
Facing Ali takes a different direction. Instead of offering a trivial, or even stereotypical, straight-forward biography of Ali, the film examines the boxer through the eyes of his best foes. In all, 10 boxers are interviewed, from minor opponents to mortal enemies. They include: George Chuvalo, Henry Cooper, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes, Ron Lyle, Ken Norton, Earnie Shavers, Leon Spinks and Ernie Terrell.
Each man dishes on their own experiences with the champ, discussing Ali's pre-fight antics and taunts, his penchant for wearing his opponent down by taking a severe beating, and his surprising empathy and respect for his fellow boxer. Ali wasn't just a mouthy know-it-all fighter. At the end of the day, even if he beat you, he still respected you for giving it your best.
Also discussed in the film are the controversies surrounding the boxing star, from his divisive name/religion change (Ali was born Cassius Clay Jr.), to his decision to dodge the Vietnam draft. And much to my surprise, not all of the fighters agree with the champ's more shocking decisions. Some even felt his life choices were downright foolish.
Surprisingly, the documentary is more emotional than anticipated. It will most definitely strike a chord with viewers. The last 10 minutes, focusing on Ali’s battle with Parkinson’s, are some of the more powerful moments I have ever seen in a documentary. Even those who may dislike him will be hard pressed to not feel anything during this stretch.
Like most sports-themed films, those who have no such interest should probably pass. But for hardcore boxing aficionados and people who at least have a passing interest in Muhammad Ali, Facing Ali is a must watch. It is much more expansive and riveting than the previous Muhammad documentary of When We Were Kings. I feel terrible in saying this, but this is the type of documentary that, while praised at a few festivals, will not come to the forefront until Ali passes away, which is hopefully later than sooner.
Entire books and movies could be made about any one of the film’s subjects; if Facing Ali has an inherent flaw, it’s that their individual stories have to be brief and folded into the whole. Take George Chuvalo, a Canadian heavyweight whom Ali once called “the toughest guy I ever fought”: Though Ali demolished him on points in both contests, Chuvalo never got knocked out, either by Ali or anyone else.
Throughout the documentary, Chuvalo delivers bright, magnanimous insights into Ali’s career, which are especially poignant considering the tragedy that’s beset his own life, including two sons who died of drug overdoses, and a wife and another son who committed suicide. After absorbing that much abuse, it’s little wonder that he’s considered to have the hardest chin in boxing history.
Facing Ali, which recounts the experience of stepping into the ring to face the most famous boxer of them all, the legend they called ‘The Greatest,’ from the point of view of the men who did it, succeeds as an affecting documentary because it’s as much about those lesser known contenders who Muhammad Ali faced as it is about the sports icon who died in June of 2016.
Shot on the Red camera, the interviews are superbly set up and photographed, in line with top-notch production values overall. The pic was made in association with Muhammad Ali Enterprises, although Ali himself appears only in fight and archival footage.
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The opening montage of this leg of ebullient chef Miguel Maestre's culinary journey around Australia shows him bicycle riding, picking apples, tasting cider, yabby fishing, frying churros in a cook-off and exclaiming, "Ole!" at every opportunity. Tonight he makes cider yabbies with stuffed zucchini flowers, while reassuringly explaining the creatures "go to sleep on ice forever".
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Muhammad Ali, original name Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., (born January 17, 1942, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.—died June 3, 2016, Scottsdale, Arizona), American professional boxer and social activist. Ali was the first fighter to win the world heavyweight championship on three separate occasions; he successfully defended this title 19 times.
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