An inside look at PBS's ‘Muhammad Ali’ and who gets to tell the story
September 21, 2021
Ken Burns’ latest four-part documentary, “Muhammad Ali,” premiered Sunday, Sept. 19 on PBS and runs for four nights. Jeffrey Brown visited Burns at his studio for a behind-the-scenes look at how he makes his films, and the larger context and conflicts in telling America’s story in a time of racial reckoning. This report is part of our arts and culture series, “CANVAS.”
- Who is Ken Burns and what is he known for?
- What are some of the reasons Burns wanted to cover Ali?
- When did Muhammad Ali become a civil rights icon?
- Why is telling Ali’s story important, according to this interview?
- How might this documentary add to viewers’ understanding of the American experience?
- If you could request an in-depth PBS documentary about one historical American figure, who would you choose, and why?
- What are your thoughts on Ken Burn’s response about making a film about Muhammad Ali as a white male and the issue of ‘who gets to tell the story’?
Media literacy: Why do you think this piece was largely about the making of the documentary, and not the subject of the documentary itself?
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