Jazz funeral documentary ‘City of a Million Dreams’ to screen at Metairie Library

May 15, 2023

Chris Smith


Jason Berry, director, writer and producer of the new documentary “City of a Million Dreams,” will present the film at a special screening at 7 p.m. May 18 at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie.

Filmed over the course of 22 years, “City of a Million Dreams” explores race relations through the lens of jazz funerals. The film is a companion to Berry’s 2018 book of the same title.

Videographer Deb Cotton and clarinetist Dr. Michael White take the documentary’s viewers on a journey into the city’s past, searching for answers in the face of tragedies both present and past.

Cotton left Hollywood for New Orleans in 2005 and became a chronicler of the parading club culture spawned by the legacy of funerals with music. This tradition is carried by White, who is renowned for playing “the widow’s wail” in sorrowful dirges. When Hurricane Katrina hit, White lost everything. In his struggle to rebuild, White becomes an everyman, embodying the resurrection spirit of jazz funerals.

As Cotton followed the parading culture through the recovery, White explored his ancestral roots in the dawn of jazz. With burial pageants as a mirror on the city’s history, the film hits a violent turning point at a parade shooting, plunging Cotton and White into a search for the city’s soul…(click here to read more)