Muhammad Ali and Forest Whitaker Celebrated at Foyle Film Festival

Muhammad Ali and Forest Whitaker Celebrated at Foyle Film Festival

Two of the biggest black stars of this generation, Muhammad Ali and Forest Whitaker, will be celebrated with a series of special screenings and events in Derry~Londonderry and Strabane, as part of this year’s Foyle Film Festival and BLACK STAR, the BFI’s major UK-wide season celebrating the range, versatility and power of black stars.

Launching the BFI BLACK STAR SEASON in Nerve Centre, Derry on November 17 is Bird, starring Whitaker as pioneering bop saxophonist Charlie Parker and directed by Clint Eastwood, a noted jazz aficionado. As well as enjoying a rare screening of the 1988 classic film, jazz fans will be treated to The Joseph Leighton Trio performing music from the Oscar®-winning soundtrack. 

As Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, in The Last King of Scotland, Whitaker gives one of the greatest performances of modern movie history, earning him the Best Leading Actor award at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards and the BAFTAs. The film will be screened in the Nerve Centre on November 22.  

‘Knockout! A Weekend with Ali’ will look back at the world-renowned boxer’s most iconic fights, in and out of ring, his historic visit to Ireland 44 years ago and how his career, still to this day, inspires the Northern Ireland boxing fraternity.

Derry boxer Charlie Nash and Paul McFadden will lead a panel reflecting on the contribution that Ali made to sports, politics and culture at a special event in Nerve Centre on Saturday 19 November. The discussion will be followed by the chance to enjoy a screening of the Oscar®-winning film, When We Were Kings.

The Hive in Rath Mor Shopping Centre, Creggan will be the venue for Ali: The Greatest Fights on Friday, November 18 at 3pm, followed the next day by Facing Ali, featuring archival footage of him as a fighter, a personality and as a political activist. Both screenings are free.

The story of how Butty Sugrue from Co. Kerry pulled off a major sporting coup in July 1972 when he arranged a fight in Croke Park between Ali and ex-con Alvin ‘Blue’ Lewis, When Ireland Came to Ireland will be shown in Lisnafin Community Association in Strabane on Friday, November 18. Entry is free and everyone welcome.

Ali, on Sunday 20 November in Nerve Centre is a rare opportunity to see Michael Mann’s biopic of the boxer in which Will Smith turn in Oscar®-nominated performances presenting the decade in Ali’s life when he converted to Islam and was absent from the ring for a long period.

BFI BLACK STAR is a UK-wide season of events, from October – December, exploring the range, versatility and power of black actors on film and television, funded by BFI Film Audience Network and Film Hub Northern Ireland.

The Foyle Film Festival runs from Wednesday 16 – Sunday 20 November. Tickets for all screenings and events are available from or by calling 02871 260 562. 

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