This documentary covers Ali’s toughest bout, his battle to overturn the five-year prison sentence he received for refusing U.S. military service. This is not a boxing film, it is a fight film tracing a formative period in Ali’s life, one that is remarkably unknown to young people today and tragically neglected by those who remember him as a boxer, but overlook how controversial he was when he first took center stage.
Prior to becoming the most recognizable face on earth, Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali and found himself in the crosshairs of conflicts concerning civil rights, religion, and wartime dissent. The fury he faced from an American public enraged by his opposition to the Vietnam War and unwilling to accept his conversion to Islam, has global implications for generations now coming of age amidst contemporary fissures involving freedom, faith and military conflict.
Today, people are more likely to be introduced to Ali via footage of him lighting the Olympic torch in 1996, or being given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. This film zeroes in on the years 1967 to 1970, when Ali lived in exile within the U.S., stripped of his heavyweight belt and banned from boxing, sacrificing fame and fortune on principle. As we follow Ali’s struggle for justice through its final round in the Supreme Court, the film explores his political, spiritual, and cultural dimensions from his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky to the far corners of the earth, enabling audiences to consider the full resonance of Ali for all time.
Coffee and Conversation is free and open to the public. Each film screening at Lincoln's Mary Riepma Ross Theatre is followed by a community discussion in UNL’s Van Brunt Visitors Center.