Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon are producing and directing a documentary for PBS about the legendary American boxer Muhammad Ali, who passed away last June. Production of the two-part, four-hour documentary began in early 2016 and the film is expected to premiere in 2021.
“Muhammad Ali’s passing last year gave us reason to celebrate his boxing feats as well as his contributions as an ambassador for human rights, and as a voice and symbol of pacifism,” said Sarah Burns in a statement. “But it’s easy to forget how divisive a figure he was, proudly associating with the Nation of Islam, refusing induction into the Army before the Vietnam War had become deeply unpopular. We’re eager to get beyond the archetypes and examine who and what influenced his choices, and how he maintained the courage of his convictions when those choices seemed to go against the tide.”
This is the third collaboration for the filmmaking trio, who worked together on the 2013 documentary “The Central Park Five” and on the two-part, four-hour doc “Jackie Robinson,” which premiered in 2016. Up next for Ken Burns is the September premiere of his PBS docuseries “The Vietnam War,” which he co-directed with Lynn Novick.