Soul Power is a 2008 documentary film directed by Jeff Levy-Hinte about the Zaire 74 music festival in Kinshasa which accompanied the Rumble in the Jungle heavyweight boxing championship match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in October 1974. The film was made from archival footage; other footage shot at the time focusing on the fight was edited to form the film When We Were Kings.
Performers in the film include James Brown (“Soul Power”), The Spinners (“One of a Kind”), OK Jazz featuring Franco, Bill Withers (“Hope She’ll Be Happier”), Miriam Makeba (“Qongqothwane” a.k.a. “The Click Song”), B.B. King (“The Thrill Is Gone”), Pembe Dance Troupe, The Crusaders (“Put It Where You Want It”), Fania All-Stars featuring Celia Cruz, Danny “Big Black” Rey, Afrisa featuring Tabu LEY, The Mighty J.B.’s (“Cold Sweat”) and Manu Dibango.
The DVD includes bonus tracks of James Brown (“Try Me”), Sister Sledge (“On and On”), Abeti and folk dance performance Pembe Dance Troupe (“Stilts and Bells”).
Footage was shot by a variety of camera operators, including Albert Maysles.
Music played on stage makes up for about half of the running time. The rest comprises documentary clips about the event, including footage of the musicians, and behind-the-scenes planning such as the stage set-up. The DVD release also includes longer clips with jam sessions, and interviews with local citizens.
James Brown performs at the beginning of the film and sings two songs in the end; another of his performances is included as a bonus feature on the DVD. Brown is also shown behind the scenes, and the musicians are seen mixing with the boxers.
Many of the artists express their views about Black Power and their role in it. Unsurprisingly Muhammad Ali uses his screen presence before the fight intensively not only to speak about imperialism and the like but also about how important it is for the movement that he will surely win. Since Foreman was delayed on account of an injury he could not appear in time for the festival and only footage from Ali could be used. We can see a short funny box fight between Philippe Wynne from The Spinners and Ali, as well as a comparison of New York City with Kinshasa by Ali telling NYC being the “real” jungle.