Friday, 13 November 2009

Bath Film Festival's Soulfull kick off

I had the pleasure of going to the launch of the Bath Film Festival on Thursday night - and what a 'soulful' and inspiriing night it was too.

The Festival chose Komedia to be the host for its launch which I thought this was a very good, non-traditional venue for a film fest.

And in a venue where laughs and good times are the order of the day it seemed apt that the film that kicked it all off was Soul Power, a movie about a three day music concert held to coincide with the classic 1974 heavyweight title fight in Zaire between Ali and Foreman.

The film footage, which has only just resurfaced and has now been beautifully packaged, followed the somewhat shambolic opening preparations for this gig to its triumphant conclusion where the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, dominated the show. The footage of this remarkable man was enough to make the film itself but you had plenty of other great performances to admire from African and African-American artists - I loved Miriam Makeba, The Spinners, BB King and Bill Withers in particular . All performed so well you almost forgot how bad their flares were.

The real star however was the main man himself - Muhammad Ali. If there is a more watchable man on screen I have yet to see it, because you literally can't take your eyes off him or turn off your ears to what he says. The trip to Africa clearly had a profound impact on him and he used every opportunity to talk about the relationship between black and white people in a way that still strikes a powerful chord today, 35 years later. And it clearly inspired him in the ring as well - enough to help him win the big fight that followed....

But this is not a boxing film, it is a musical one and the music just burns brightly. The feet never stop tapping throughout and it was a genuine (and unexpected) pleasure to see a film end with enthusiastic applause from a live and lively audience.

So a great kick off for the Bath festival and look out for many fine films in the next few weeks from blockbuster names and much-anticipated premieres such as The Informant and A Prophet to weird little movies including a 'cricket slasher movie' (I kid you not) and old classics like The Belles of St Trinians.

More details on this great feast of film from

Get up, get on up!

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