Back in July we named “Bundini” directed by Patrick Green one of our Top 10 Shorts to watch at the 2021 Melbourne Documentary Film Festival. What we didn’t tell you then is that it’s actually one of our favorite films of the entire festival and perhaps one of the most compelling shorts we’ve seen this year.
The film is based on Todd D. Snyder’s book Bundini: Don’t Believe the Hype and explores the life of legendary boxing cornerman and trainer Drew “Bundini” Brown.
To say that Bundini had an interesting life would be a grand understatement. His life was incredible.
Everyone needs someone in their world who champions their abilities. A supporter. A confidant. An encouraging voice that motivates them to keep going when they just want to give up.
For Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali that was Drew “Bundini” Brown.
Boxing fans will live for “Bundini’s” amazing archive footage of Ali and Brown in and out of the ring, as well as learning the backstory of their sometimes contentious friendship.
One of the things we love most about “Bundini” is that it looks at Brown’s entire life.
Viewers will get a rich sense of who Brown was after learning about his childhood in Florida during the Jim Crow era, the impressionable years he spent serving in the military, his marrying of a white Orthodox Jewish woman in Harlem, and, of course, his career in boxing and his life after.
A lot of attention has been given this year to Ken Burns’ four-part documentary series on Muhammad Ali, but Patrick Green’s film is the first-ever documentary on Drew “Bundini” Brown. We think if you’ve watched Burns’ series then you absolutely must watch “Bundini” too because it’s extraordinary from start to finish and gives so much wonderful insight into the life of a man who had a profound influence on Ali’s success.
Even if you know zero about boxing you’ll be captivated by how lyrically Green weaves the film into what is truly a touching profile on a remarkable and complex individual.
“Bundini” is narrated by biographer Todd D. Snyder and Brown’s son Drew Brown III. Toward the end of the film there is a sequence of Brown’s son, a decorated Navy pilot and motivational speaker, that is so poignant it may bring a tear to your eye. It’s just beautiful and we love how Green brings Bundini’s legacy full circle by including him at this moment.
“Who is your Bundini?” is a question the film asks that will leave viewers reflecting on the inspirational people and motivators in their own life. Everyone should strive to elevate others not tear them down. There may be a lot of knockouts and trash-talking in boxing but there’s also a lot of love and building up.
Drew “Bundini” Brown may not have known how to read but he understood the power of words. The influence they can have. How they can change a situation in a split second. Bring about a rise. Even help make someone the greatest of all time.
See “Bundini” streaming online from October 1st-31st at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival during Shorts Session 7. For more information on how to stream the film, visit: mdff.org.au.