In 1974, Leon Gast traveled to Africa to film Zaire 74, a music festival planned to accompany an unprecedented sports spectacle: the Rumble in the Jungle, in which late-career underdog Muhammad Ali would contend with the younger powerhouse George Foreman for the boxing heavyweight championship titleââa fight between two blacks in a black nation, organized by blacks,â as a Kinshasa billboard put it. When the main event was delayed, extending Aliâs stay in Africa, Gast wound up amassing a treasure trove of footage, capturing the wildly charismatic athlete training for one of the toughest bouts of his career while basking in his role as black Americaâs proud ambassador to postcolonial Africa. Two decades in the making, When We Were Kings
features interviews with Norman Mailer and George Plimpton that illustrate the sensational impact of the fight, rounding out an Academy Awardâwinning portrait of Ali that captures his charm, grace, and defiance.
- Soul Power, a 2009 documentary about the Zaire 74 music festival directed by Jeffrey Kusama-Hinte
- New interviews with producers Taylor Hackford and David Sonenberg
- Interview from 1997 with director Leon Gast
- An essay by critic Kelefa Sanneh