Among this year’s Revivals selections is 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, we were delighted to convene 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) for a rich and enlightening roundtable discussion moderated by writer and critic Nicholas Russell.
Watch the conversation below, presented by HBO. Visit our NYFF58 playlist for more talks and Q&As.