Press for FACING ALI

From Marsha Lederman in the Globe and Mail:


"This exceptional film, based on the book by Globe and Mail journalist Stephen Brunt, traces the career of the great Muhammad Ali through the eyes of ten of his opponents, including Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Larry Holmes and Leon Spinks. Beautifully edited, McCormack weaves archival footage of the bouts with his present-day interviews, Ali's opponents essentially providing the play-by-play for their long-ago fights (and re-enacting some of the moves they tried out against Ali). Each of these fighters has a story to tell—not just about Ali, but about themselves. Toronto fighter George Chuvalo is particularly articulate and colourful—and provides the film's most sombre moment. McCormack has also dug up unforgettable footage of the often heated pre-fight press conferences. It's impossible not to fall for the young, outspoken Ali's charisma—or this film. If you're prepared to dismiss this because you don't care for boxing, don't. This smart, innovative documentary is a knock-out."

“…an astonishing feat …”
—Glen Schaefer, The Province


“…first-rate…” “…so compelling…” “…impeccably researched…” “…excruciatingly moving…” “…top-notch production values…” “…nuanced insights…” “…extraordinary tales…”

redefines the boxing legend thru the remembrances of his reverent opponents. Their stories are startling: hopeful, heart-breaking, heroic yet oh-so-human. (George Chuvalo’s post-fight celebration and later familial tragedy rank amongst the most memorable movie moments of the year.) Filmmaker Pete McCormack coaxes these tales with the finesse of the Champ, luring the fighters into his corner, always mindful of their contributions to the sport and respectful of their sufferings. (The gradual revelation of Ken Norton’s shocking “downfall” floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee.) Like Muhammad, McCormack is a showman with a gentleman’s heart. And, in this year of competitive documentaries, he stands shoulder to shoulder with The Greatest.”
—The Warren Report


"...a tour de force that shows Ali both in his prime and during his decline..."
—Yvonne Zacharias, The Vancouver Sun


I’ve seen the film and I can tell you this, if you don’t get down to the theatre to see this film, then you are a moron. I don’t care if you’re not a fight fan. Muhammad Ali is more than a boxer. Who stood up to the idiocy of the Vietnam War? Muhammad Ali. Who took boxing to the pinnacle of sports? Muhammad Ali. And who had the courage to stand up for his beliefs while risking millions of dollars and his championship belts? Muhammad Ali."
—Bruce Allen , CKNW  


"...the recollections by the fighters are frank and honest recollections, and they aren't all positive. Terrell claims that Ali hit him in the eye and raked his face in a clinch early in their 1967 fight. Frazier is visibly upset when recollecting how Ali treated him in the build up to the Fight of the Century in New York City in 1971.

Says Shavers: "He could con you in so many ways."

But Facing Ali is about his 10 opponents as much as it is about him. They tell us how they came to boxing — all of them were from working class and/or immigrant families — and what their lives have been like since they fought the Greatest...

Said [Ron] Lyle in the closing moments of the film: "He can't speak for himself, but we can speak for him."

And they do so with great emotion and great respect. Facing Ali is an energetic and moving history of a golden age of boxing, and the man which reigned during it."
Blaine Kyllo, Cinemaspy.com


"...conversations with 10 of Ali's former opponents drive a colourful narrative that paints a fresh portrait of the living legend..."
Graeme McRanor, The Vancouver Sun


"Your documentation of Ali and his peers is in that tradition of integrity and humanity that one sees in the work of Paul Robeson and Pete Seeger. You each tell it like it is."
—Professor Ralph Fertig, USC, Freedom Rider


***** "...one of the best sports, hell, documentaries about lives, and what bound them together, ever.
—Richard Erwin



copyright 2006 Pete McCormack