“I just love the shooting process,” said journalism professor Mario Gonzalez. After six months of hard work filming the 18-minute mini-documentary, “Muhammad Ali: Fighter, Activist, Icon,” Gonzalez was proud and excited to screen it during the New York Short Film Festival, which ended just last week.
The documentary highlights Ali’s legacy in the world of boxing, using interviews and compelling visuals to tell the story.
As a freelance photographer for Newsday, Gonzalez was approached to work on the project by fellow Hofstra professor, Robert Cassidy, who created the concept behind the film. Together, they spent months traveling to places like the Boxing Hall of Fame in upstate New York and small towns like Easton, Pennsylvania, to compile interviews.
Gonzalez, a fan of boxing, explained that one of the highlights of photographing the documentary was interviewing some big names in the sport.
“We went to go speak with Larry Holmes which was amazing, it was a really cool experience. He was just so open to us about everything,” Gonzalez said.
Holmes is a former professional boxer who competed from 1973 to 2002. He grew up in Easton, Pennsylvania, hence his boxing nickname of the “Easton Assassin.” Holmes was Ali’s training partner and fought him in some of Ali’s last career matches.
Although work on the documentary started before Ali’s death in June of this year, it was released just after he had passed away, adding an even deeper significance to the film.
Gonzalez said that the screening of the documentary at the film festival acted as a history lesson for some. He attended the screening and enjoyed the opportunity of seeing his work on the big screen. “It’s cool to be in a theater and see your stuff ... I try to look for reactions on certain points that I know are coming in the film.”
The mini-documentary was entered for the Emmy’s and information of recognition will take place in February. Gonzalez is not currently working on other documentaries, but enjoys taking part in the creation of such films and hopes to do more this summer. He urges students to appreciate and take part in the visual process, hoping that they will build photography and editing skills here at Hofstra.
Nicole Caico, a junior journalism major and a student of Gonzalez’ said, “I think it makes coming to class a lot more significant when you know that your teacher is doing the real-world version of what you’re doing in class.”