***/**** Image A Sound A Extras B
directed by Jeffrey Levy-Hinte
by Jefferson Robbins There's a double filter of nostalgia on Soul Power, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte's assemblage of decades-old footage from the Zaire '74 music festival. The Kinshasa-based event opened the fabled Muhammad Ali-George Foreman bout "The Rumble in the Jungle," where Ali reclaimed the world heavyweight championship--back when the thought that music and sport could change the world seemed less far-fetched. But while the concert showcase captures stirring performances from some of soul music's greatest figures, it still winds up being only half a documentary. The miles of film accumulated in Kinshasa--shot by Albert Maysles, among other notables--sat in storage until it got aired out for Leon Gast's rousing sports doc When We Were Kings in 1996. That piece is a valuable curation, recording exactly how Ali-Foreman (mostly Ali, by seizing the narrative early) energized a nation oppressed first by Belgian colonialism, then by Mobutu Sese Seko's dictatorship. That's not to mention how the fight (again, via Ali) reasserted ties between African-Americans and their ancestral continent, and was billed (by Don King) as a triumph for American black pride.