Duration: 1h 30m Director: Jason Berry
City of a Million Dreams movie poster

“New Orleans people have a compulsive drive to do everything the opposite of everywhere else. Maybe dancing when someone dies is the most brilliant thing you can do.” – Deborah “Big Red” Cotton

The Somerville Theatre will present a special film screening of the documentary film, “City of a Million Dreams,” Tuesday, June 20 at 7:30 pm. After the screening there will be a live discussion by the distinguished author, journalist and filmmaker Jason Berry.

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.


City of a Million Dreams: A History of New Orleans at Year 300 (2018) was Jason Berry’s tenth book, and the basis for the companion documentary film he produced, “City of a Million Dreams – Parading for the Dead In New Orleans.”

Berry is a distinguished author and investigative journalist based in New Orleans. He has done extensive reporting on the crisis in the Catholic Church in many articles, an award-winning documentary, “Vows of Silence,” and three books. “Render unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church” received the Investigative Reporters and Editors 2011 Book Award. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and Alicia Patterson foundations.


Tuesday June 20
7:30 pm
Moviehouse 3