Thursday, February 17, 2022
Filmmaker Jason Berry joins clarinetist Dr. Michael White and choreographer Monique Moss in the presentation of this unique film. City of a Million Dreams explores New Orleans' rich history of burial traditions while focusing on race relations in American society.
The showing of the film will begin at 6pm at the Beauregard-Keyes House and be followed by a panel discussion with Mr. Berry, Dr. White, and Ms. Moss.
About the Film:
Famous the world over, jazz funerals have origins shrouded in mystery. Filmed over twenty-two years, City of a Million Dreams explores race relations at a tearing time in American society. Burial traditions train a lens on the unique and resilient culture of New Orleans. City of a Million Dreams draws from the 2018 book of the same title by Jason Berry.
Deb Cotton, an African American and observant Jew, leaves “hard-hearted Hollywood” for New Orleans, and becomes a chronicler of the parading clubs spawned by 19th century burial societies. Her zeal for the city grows as she becomes a blogger for Gambit Weekly, adopting the handle “Big Red Cotton.” As Deb explores her adopted culture, Dr. Michael White, a prolific clarinetist and New Orleans native, plays “the widow’s wail” on his clarinet, a cry of lamentation in the funeral marches.
White’s transcendent music also includes joyous peals for the soul’s cutting-loose, which happens when the band leaves the cemetery, followed by dancers in what New Orleanians call “the second line.” Risen in the ranks of brass bands, White, too, is on a journey of self-discovery, seeking clues about his ancestor who played at the dawn of jazz. White says of jazz funerals: “For someone dealing with American racism and trying to figure out your place in this life…you can be transformed into another world that really sets you free.”
Per City of New Orleans COVID-19 Guidelines, everyone in attendance must wear a mask and anyone 5 years of age or older must provide proof of at least one dose of an approved COVID vaccine or negative PCR/antigen test within 72 hours.