Since it was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1966, Kartemquin Films has produced documentaries that examine social issues through the stories of real people. Kartemquin’s latest feature-length film covers Muhammad Ali’s toughest bout: his battle to overturn a five-year prison sentence for refusing US military service in Vietnam. At the time the most recognizable face on earth, Ali found himself in the crosshairs of conflicts concerning civil rights, religion, and wartime dissent. Zeroing in on the years 1967 to 1971, The Trials of Muhammad Ali is not a boxing film, but it is a fight film. Ali sacrificed fame and fortune to uphold his principles and lived in exile within the United States, stripped of his heavyweight belt and banned from boxing. While discussing the challenges they encountered in making the film, director Bill Siegel and producer Rachel Pikelny will delve into a man’s hidden story of personal conflict and courage, one that speaks to generations coming of age today. This conversation will be moderated by noted Chicago journalist Laura Washington.
Laura S. Washington is a Chicago Sun-Times columnist and political analyst for ABC 7, Chicago’s ABC-owned station. She brings more than two decades of experience as a multi-media journalist, educator and non-profit professional specializing in African-American affairs, local and national politics, race, and social justice. Washington's work has been widely featured in the national media, including Time and Newsweek magazines, The New York Times, PBS and the BBC.