CITY OF A MILLION DREAMS
December 5, 2023, 7:00 P.M.
The Michelle and Kevin Douglas IMAX Theatre, RZC 119, Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts, 3131 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007
Outside the Box [Office] invites you and a guest to attend
A Special IMAX Screening of
CITY OF A MILLION DREAMS
Written, Directed, and Produced by Jason Berry
Followed by a Q&A with Jason Berry,
Co-Producer/UPM/Production Designer/Writer Simonette Berry,
Consulting Producer/SCA Faculty Doug Blush,
Cinematographer/USC Alum Harris Done,
and Monique Moss, Creative Director of Sequences on African Burial Dances
7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, December 5th, 2023
The Michelle and Kevin Douglas IMAX Theatre, RZC 119
Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts
3131 S. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007
FREE ADMISSION. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. RSVPs REQUIRED.
About City of a Million Dreams
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.”
Funerals unfold as caravans of memory, shaping White’s quest and Cotton’s epiphanies. New Orleans burial customs evolve as people of different tongues and colors reach the city, surviving floods, fires, war, political violence, civil rights struggles, and hurricanes. The film follows the French town’s evolution with a stunning recreation of African burial choreographies by enslaved people, honoring ancestral memory on a field called Congo Square. The resistance drama of danced memory carries across time, gathering force as as black men march as Mardi Gras Indians in one the film’s most powerful funeral sequences. As African dances merge with the funeral processions of European marching bands, the fusion of the ring and the line gives shape to jazz music, and an archetype of the city’s diverse society.
When the documentary hits a violent turning point at a parade shooting, Deb Cotton and Michael White are plunged into a search for the city’s soul.
Running time: 90 minutes.
About the Guests
JASON BERRY (Director, Producer, Writer)
?Jason Berry achieved prominence for his reporting on the Catholic Church crisis in Lead Us Not Into Temptation (1992), a book used in many newsrooms. He has been widely interviewed in the national media, with many appearances on Nightline, Oprah, ABC and CNN. USA Today called Berry “the rare investigative reporter whose scholarship, compassion and ability to write with the poetic power of Robert Penn Warren are in perfect balance.”
Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II, written with Gerald Renner (2004) has Spanish, Australian and Italian editions. The film won Best TV Documentary Award at 2008 Docs D.F. — Mexico City International Festival of Documentary Film.
Jason Berry produces documentaries and writes on culture and politics for many publications. Up From the Cradle of Jazz, a history of New Orleans music, reissued in fall 2009 has new sections on the cultural impact of Hurricane Katrina. His play, Earl Long in Purgatory, won a 2002 Big Easy award for Best Original Work in Theatre.
Mr. Berry produced a 2008 documentary, Vows of Silence, based on the book, which examines the Vatican’s system of justice in the sex abuse crisis and had airdates in Spain, Italy and Ireland. He was co-producer of the 2014 Frontline film Secrets of the Vatican by producer-director Anthony Thomas. Jason Berry lives in New Orleans.
SIMONETTE BERRY (Co-Producer, UPM, Production Designer, Writer)
www.simonetteberry.com | www.scenicartandcastingstudio.com
Simonette, a classically trained fine artist and writer from New Orleans, has a long background in sculpting, painting, and designing for film and television. Her film credits include: sculptor Capone (2020), a scenic artist on Underwater (2020), scenic artist on Claws: Season 2 (2018), sculptor/moldmaker on Geostorm (2017), scenic artist on Roots (2016), sculptor, moldmaker, and scenic artist on Terminator: Genisys (2015), lead sculptor on Into the Badlands: Season 1 (2015), sculptor and moldmaker on Maze Runner (2014), sculptor on Salem: Seasons 1 and 3 (2014-17), leadman and featured artist on Chef (2014), production designer and scenic artist on Bayou Tales (in post production), and others. Her company, Scenic Art and Casting Studio, has created sets for Southern Rep Theater, the New Orleans Opera, Fringe Festival, the Marigny Opera House Ballet, and other theatrical productions and events. Before devoting herself completely to film, she wrote as a columnist and Assistant Editor at Louisiana Homes and Gardens Magazine, freelanced with other publications, and contributed to the book of post-Katrina essays New Orleans: What Can’t Be Lost.
Simonette is the Assistant Business Agent and Chair of the Board of Trustees for IATSE Local 478, representing film workers in Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama.
DOUG BLUSH (Consulting Producer, SCA Faculty)
Doug Blush is an award-winning director, producer, editor, writer, and cinematographer whose work includes over 200 feature and television projects. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) as well as the American Cinema Editors (ACE). His recent credits include, as consulting editor and co-producer, the 2020 Critics’ Choice Award and 2022 Peabody Award-winning MR SOUL!, the 2019 Academy Award®-winning PERIOD. END OF SENTENCE, the 2018 Academy Award®-winning ICARUS, and, as supervising editor, the 2013 Oscar® winner 20 FEET FROM STARDOM, for which he also received the ACE Eddie Award for Best Documentary Editing.
Doug co-owns MadPix Films, a Los Angeles-based production and post production company. He is also a longtime film educator with classes and seminars at USC, UCLA, Syracuse University, and the YoungArts Foundation in Miami, as well as exchanges and panels in Indonesia, Brazil, New Zealand, Armenia, Malaysia, Nigeria, China, Latvia, The Netherlands, and more.
HARRIS DONE (Director of Photography)
Director of Photography Harris Done has worked in many genres over the past 25 years. Most notable has been his long documentary collaboration with director James Moll. Their work includes the 1999 Academy Award-winning Feature Documentary The Last Days for executive producer Steven Spielberg, as well as the Emmy award winning Inheritance.
The epic Running the Sahara, produced and narrated by Matt Damon, followed three ultra marathon runners across the African continent. Grammy winning Foo Fighters: Back and Forth, Price for Peace, Farmland and the upcoming OBEY, a biography of American artist and muralist Shepard Fairey, are recent projects of note. Done’s other notable documentary D.P. credits include Above and Beyond, Vows of Silence, From a Whisper to a Roar, and the cult classic Trekkies.
In addition to his extensive cinematography work, Harris has also written, produced and directed several dramatic feature films including Purgatory Flats, Storm starring Martin Sheen and the award-winning Sand Trap. He has also directed the documentaries War Dogs of the Pacific and Always Faithful.
MONIQUE MOSS (Congo Square Creative Director)
A native of New Orleans, Monique Moss is a Choreographer, Independent Curator, History Tour Guide, and Artistic Director of Third Eye Theatre Interdisciplinary and Improvisational Performance Company. She received a BA in French, MA in Latin American Studies, MFA in Interdisciplinary Dance Performance from Tulane University, and a MA in Museum Studies from SUNO. She has presented research-based performance at the Magdalena Festival Cali, Columbia; Arts in Society Conference Venice; Microfest Hawaii, The Kennedy Center, Contemporary Arts Center, Houston Black Dance Festival, Congo Square Festival, Essence Festival, Fringe Festival, New Orleans Film Festival, NPN Annual Conference, Alternate Roots Festival, Ogden Museum, New Orleans African American Museum and New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old Mint. Her ethnographic research in Haiti, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Cuba, France, Spain and Brazzaville, Kongo has been presented at the River Road African American Museum, The Historic New Orleans Collection Williams Research Center, New Orleans Jazz Museum, Haitian Studies Association Conference, Latin American Resource Center, Tulane University and Xavier University Institute for Black Catholic Studies. Producer of the International Haitian Arts and Culture Exchange and Congo to Congo Square Dance and Drum Consortium in New Orleans, Moss has also held several artist residencies and curated multi-disciplinary exhibitions. She co-produced the film Silent Parade directed by William Cordova and choreographed the Congo Square segment in City of a Million Dreams. An adjunct professor in Dance at Tulane University for eleven years, Moss is a founding member of Krewe du Kanaval. She has received awards and research grants from the Smithsonian NMAAHC, Fulbright-Hays Teacher Fellowships to Japan and South Africa, LDOA, Kellogg Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Tulane University Office of the Dean, Newcomb Institute, Newcomb College Center for Research on Women, and the Big Easy Classical Arts Awards in Dance and Choreography.
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Outside the Box [Office] is a weekly showcase for upcoming releases highlighting world cinema, documentary and independent film titles. The series draws from around the globe to present movies that may challenge, inspire or simply entertain.
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Check-In & Reservations
This screening is free of charge and open to the public A reservation confirmation will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M.
All SCA screenings are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.
NO STUDENT, STAFF, FACULTY OR THEATER PARKING IS AVAILABLE AT THE ROBERT ZEMECKIS CENTER.
We recommend Parking in the USC Shrine Parking Structure, located 686 W 32nd St. Parking passes may be purchased at the gate. Metered street parking is also available along 32nd street.
The USC Robert Zemeckis Center is located at 3131 South Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90007, one block north of Parking Structure D, on the North side of the Shrine Auditorium. The RZC entrance is located at the rear of the building, behind the red fence on 32nd St.
Name: Alessandro Ago