By Roderick Elston
The Xavier University of Louisiana presented a film adaptation of City of a Million Dreams by writer and producer Jason Berry, featuring Xavier’s very own Dr. Michael White.
The mid-afternoon event kicked off at the Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion, with attendees being greeted by the sounds of the Dr. Michael White Quartet and complemented with cold cuts, sweet confections, and refreshing beverages. The film offers the cultural depiction of how jazz and funerals co-exist in the largely described “backward” New Orleans.
The city’s cycle of invention, struggle, death, and rebirth highlights its cultural differences from other places across the nation. Considering the film years in the making becomes an understatement with its consistent historical value.
“Jason Berry’s film includes wonderful historical footage and profoundly personal interviews,” Walter Isaacson, former CEO of CNN News, author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs, said in a review of the film. “With a lens on jazz funerals, he is capturing the soul of New Orleans in a film that will become a classic.”
“We have not pitched it to anybody yet [referring to major outlet and distribution companies],” Berry said during a post-panelist discussion of the film. “The way that you sell a film is by doing exactly what we are doing today, getting [a] review.”
Berry said it is not a great time for independent filmmakers to reach out to the big wigs as the 2022 Academy Awards roll out. The COMD team’s main goal is to gain more engagement upon its 2021 release.
New Orleans’s historical landmark, Congo Square, was also featured in the film from the choreographic works of Monique Moss.
“I have traveled to quite a few archives, throughout the Caribbean, and in Europe researching work very much related to this work,” Moss said.
According to the city of a Million Dreams website, film screenings will be available for the next two weeks, starting March 29 at Loyola University New Orleans. Screenings will also be held between April 1 and April 10 at the Ashland Independent Film Festival in Ashland, Oregon, where virtual screenings will be available. A film screening is also scheduled for April 3 at the Black New Orleans Film Festival; the film will also be live-streamed online.