This week on the Film at Lincoln Center podcast, we’re featuring a special roundtable from the 58th New York Film Festival on a pair of intimate, rarely seen portraits of two towering figures of American history: Terrence Dixon’s Meeting the Man: James Baldwin in Paris and William Klein’s Muhammad Ali, the Greatest.
In capturing the tensions experienced by both Baldwin and Ali as outspoken Black public figures in the ’70s, the films raise questions that are strikingly relevant to the present moment. What are the burdens placed on Black artists and athletes in the public eye? Can they act as political—perhaps even revolutionary—agents of change? What place do Black American arts and culture occupy in international movements for justice and equality?
To reflect on these timely themes, Soraya Nadia McDonald (critic, The Undefeated), Rich Blint (professor and writer, The New School), Samantha Sheppard (professor, Cornell University; author, Sporting Blackness), and Kazembe Balagun (project manager, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York Office) came together for a rich and enlightening roundtable discussion moderated by writer and critic Nicholas Russell.
See the double bill of Muhammad Ali, the Greatest and Meeting the Man: James Baldwin in Paris, along with over 30 other NYFF58 selections, at Film at Lincoln Center’s theaters during Big Screen Summer: NYFF58 Redux. Get tickets here.