Friday, May 15, 2015

Ali vs. Liston, 50 Years Later

Coming on the heels of a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight that disappointed many, this screening is going to pack an extra punch.

To go along with the world premiere of Raising Ali: A Lewiston Story on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network Monday May 25th, a special screening will be held that same night at the Androscoggin Bank Colisée in Lewiston, Maine. The site of Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston's very brief featured contest, a rematch following Liston's loss to Ali 15 months earlier.

Per a recent article in the Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal, the connection between the filmmakers and their subject goes much deeper. Executive producer Charles Hewitt is in the process of completing a sculpture designed to mark the revitalization of Maine's second largest city, a piece that will be erected in downtown Lewiston this fall.

From Steve Sherlock's Journal article:

Hewitt and director Gary Robinov saw the opportunity to use the backdrop of the fight as a metaphor for Lewiston's struggles to reinvent itself after the closure of the mills, still vital in the 1960s when the fight was held.
"We wanted to send a message to Lewiston, a love letter to Lewiston," Robinov said. It was not so much about the fight for him. "It's something bigger than two guys showing up to trade punches."
"It's really a story about Lewiston in 1965. It's a story about where the country was in 1965 and then where we are today and where Lewiston is today. What does it mean to get up off the mat?"

The film, which features interviews with locals and Lewiston community leaders, inevitably touches on the 1965 fight's infamous “phantom punch” and Sports Illustrated photographer Neil Leifer's iconic shot of Ali standing over Liston, urging the latter to get up off the mat and continue fighting.

Director Robinov is also an adjunct professor at the Maine College of Art. His first documentary, 2010's Canvasman: The Robbie Ellis Story, was all about a well-known local art dealer and gallery owner-slash-wrestler.

[Raising Ali Facebook page]

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