Films & Schedules

  • Soul Power

  • Jeffrey Levy-Hinte

English, French
93 minutes

Production Company:
Antidote Films, Inc.
Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, David Sonenberg, Leon Gast
Paul Goldsmith, Kevin Keating, Albert Maysles, Roderick Young
David Smith
Tom Efinger
Principal Cast: Muhammad Ali, James Brown, BB King, Miriam Makeba, Celia Cruz

Thursday September 0406:30PM AMC 6 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Saturday September 0609:00PM AMC 10 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Saturday September 1310:00AM AMC 3 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

Zaire ‘74 was the brainchild of South African musician Hugh Masekela and American record producer Stewart Levine, a three-day music festival that took place in Kinshasa in 1974. The event assembled America's biggest rhythm and blues talents – including James Brown and the Mighty JBs, Bill Withers, B.B. King, and the Spinners – along with top African acts such as Miriam Makeba and Afrisa. The festival was held in conjunction with the boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman known as the “Rumble in the Jungle.” Most of the American performers, emboldened by the civil rights movement, were visiting Africa for the first time, exploring their roots and somewhat naive beliefs about the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. The promoters hired a team of esteemed documentary cameramen to film everything, including street life in Kinshasa and behind-the-scenes footage of the show being assembled. The crew masterfully recorded classic numbers such as Makeba's “The Click Song,” King's “The Thrill Is Gone,” and of course, Brown's “Soul Power.” And then the footage sat unedited for over thirty years.

The festival and film were financed by a Liberian investment group that became mired in legal disputes. Eventually, the rights were settled to facilitate the completion of the 1996 film When We Were Kings, which focused on the Ali-Foreman fight, and it won an Academy Award®. Jeffrey Levy-Hinte was an editor on that project, and recognized that another film about the twelve-hour concert was waiting to be made. With Soul Power, he finally brings this work to fruition. None of the footage has ever been seen, including new sections with Ali. The film plays like a time capsule, with no contemporary interviews to interrupt its cinéma-verité sensibility.

Soul Power documents the heady days when the musical crossover between Africa and America was just emerging. The camera crew captures the excitement on the plane as salsa singer Celia Cruz leads the musicians in a jam session. After three decades, we finally have the privilege to share their journey.

Thom Powers

Jeffrey Levy-Hinte was born in Santa Monica, California, and graduated from California State University, Northridge, and the University of Michigan. He has produced many acclaimed films, including Laurel Canyon (02), Thirteen (03), Mysterious Skin (04) and Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (08). He recently produced The Dungeon Masters (08), which is also playing at this year's Festival. Soul Power (08) is his feature directing debut.

Cadillac People's Choice Award