A doc that loves the music, culture, and food of Jazz Fest.
Founded by George Wein, Jazz Fest is the biggest and most celebrated music festival in the city of New Orleans. It brings everyone together, it brings singers together, and it brings its best chefs together. I’ve never heard about this festival before, but seeing it in the documentary “Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story” is really uplifting and high spirited. It made me dance in my seat, wanting to eat its food, and I’m also able to acknowledge the cultures it brings together.
The doc shows us Jazz Fest celebrating its 50th anniversary, and we have a number of performers from Earth Wind & Fire singing “September” to Katy Perry performing a medley of her hits to Pitbull going all “Fireball” to Jimmy Buffett singing “Margaritaville.”
It’s not just Jazz Fest the movie celebrates but also it’s food and culture of Louisiana. We get a tour of the bayou, it’s citizens falling in love with Cajun music, and the diversity that brings everyone together.
And in its sad state, it reminds us about the horrific events of Hurricane Katrina. How it destroyed homes, and how it left its citizens in a state of despair. But it also had people who never gave up hope, and kept Jazz Fest running, honoring the brave souls and how life must go on.
In recent memory, “Summer of Soul (or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, and taught us about the Harlem Culture Festival. As I’ve mentioned in my review: “I’m a film critic, who sticks up for independent films-ones that don’t get the kind of admiration bigger movies to-so I can totally see what the fans are getting at. I may not be in their shoes, but I still admire their poetry and speeches about what is going on. This concert wasn’t prompting violence or protests, but rather an opportunity for cultures to get together, be themselves, and have a fun time.”
That’s exactly how I felt about “Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story,” because directors Frank Marshall and Ryan Suffern both bring the interviewees together, and they capture the concert in its highs and lows. The concert doesn’t care about violence at all, which is refreshing considering the world we live in, but it does acknowledge the hardships the city has faced, like Katrina, and manages to keep its head high.
To get off-topic for the moment, the first line in “The Departed” was: “I don’t want to be a product of my environment, I want my environment to be a product of me.” That line was said by a bad guy, but if I said that, it would be a good thing. I’m not the one who asked for war or racism. And if people were just like me, we wouldn’t be repeating history. But we’re unfortunately in reality, and we have to deal with certain issues. And I don’t agree with that. I agree about diversity and how people can come together.
I was given a sneak peak of this movie by Sony Pictures Classics last month, and I was dancing in my seat. But I got lucky because I was in the front row with one guy in the back. If you want to dance to the music, I would advise you pick a seat away from other people. That’s why we have reserved seating. I had a fun time seeing this film, and I was also moved by its emotions and spirits. If you loved “Summer of Soul,” then you’ll love “Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story.”
In Select Theaters This Friday