Best Chicago Story | Best of Chicago 2014 | Arts & Culture | Chicago Reader

Best Chicago Story

The Trials of Muhammad Ali

Critics' Picks

The past year has yielded numerous contenders for this honor. Finding Vivian Maier profiled the reclusive street photographer whose stubborn pursuit of her art epitomized the city almost as much as the random Chicagoans she captured on film. The Golden Age of Wild Chicago, compiled from the long-running WTTW show, provided a late-80s time capsule of local eccentrics and offbeat enterprises. Even Divergent, the dippy dystopian blockbuster adapted from Veronica Roth's young-adult novel, offered a fascinating postapocalyptic vision of the city, where teenagers get their kicks wire-gliding between decrepit skyscrapers. But the most significant Chicago story to hit the big screen was the Kartemquin Films documentary The Trials of Muhammad Ali, exploring the fighter's great religious and political awakening here within the Nation of Islam. Directed by Bill Siegel (The Weather Underground), the film serves as a bracing reminder that Ali's subsequent decision to surrender his heavyweight title rather than serve in Vietnam was what transformed him from a colorful sports figure into a genuine American hero.

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