Production Team

Jason Berry – Director, Producer, Writer

www.jasonberryauthor.com

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.

Bernard (Biff) Pettingill, Executive Producer

Bernard Pettengill is a native New Orleanian with a Ph D in Economics from Manchester University in England. He taught for many years at University of Louisiana, Lafayette; the LSU Medical School; and Atlantic University in Palm Beach, Florida, near his home. A forensic economist since 1985, he works as a consultant for a range of clients, and has testified in more than 1500 cases across 29 states, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He is the majority shareholder in the puzzle company  www.puzzle8.net. “City of A Million Dreams” is his first film project.

Tim Watson – Editor, Writer, Co-Producer

TimWatson.me

Tim Watson is a documentary editor, writer, and producer based in New Orleans. He has worked extensively with Berry, and was editor of Vows of Silence. Much of his work has been at the intersection of New Orleans music and social issues, working on films featuring Allen Toussaint, Henry Butler, James Booker, the TBC brass band, and many other musicians. His work has been seen on PBS, the Sundance Channel, HBO, the Documentary Channel, and other networks in the U.S. and Europe; and at many film festivals around the world.

He edited Cross Eyed (2021), was advising editor on Mossville: When Great Trees Fall (2019), was advising editor and editor of book content for Fess Up (2018), edited Everything Is To Be Continued (summer 2015); was advising editor for Big Charity: The Death of America’s Oldest Hospital (2014); edited and co-produced Campo to B.C. (2014); co-edited and co-wrote Bayou Maharajah (2013); co-produced and co-edited The Music’s Gonna Get You Through (2010); was supervising producer and co-editor for Bury The Hatchet (2010); co-edited Walker Percy: A Documentary Film (2010); edited Taste Of Place (series, 2010-11); did story development for and edited Vows of Silence (2008); edited Member Of The Club (2008); co-produced and edited By Invitation Only (2006); edited a documentary segment for HBO Comic Relief (2006); co-produced and edited A Player To Be Named Later (2005); co-produced and co-edited Desire (2005); edited and co-wrote Shalom Y’All (2002); and edited Ruthie The Duck Girl (1999).

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 othersHer 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.

Harris Done – Director of Photography

www.harrisdone.com 

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.

Dr. Michael White – Narrator, Composer; Jazz Studies, Xavier University

Dr. Michael White, clarinetist and composer in the New Orleans Style jazz, is a professor of African-American Music and holds the Keller Endowed Chair in the Humanities at Xavier University, New Orleans.White is a prolific recording artist who has performed in more than two dozen countries, made many national TV appearances, and given countless interviews. He is also a jazz historian who lectures on the tradition. Much of his early research dealt with his ancestor, Papa John Joseph, a musician at the dawn of jazz.

White’s clarinet sound is distinguished by his roaming melancholy in the “widow’s wail” during jazz funerals and the soaring lyricism in the “cutting loose” parade, releasing the soul from earthly ties. He has played with many important artists over the years, including Ernest “Doc” Paulin, Danny Barker, and George “Kid Sheik Cola” Colar. White’s rich voice on clarinet is featured on recent recordings by several legends of popular music — Wynton Marsalis, Eric Clapton, Taj Mahal, Paul Simon, and Marianne Faithful. Throughout the 1990’s Michael White recorded a variety of records with multiple record labels including 1992’s New Year’s Eve Live at The Village Vangaurd (Antilles).With the New Orleans label, Basin Street Records, he has released a string of works featuring his clarinet solos, A Song for George Lewis (2000), Jazz from the Soul of New Orleans (2002), Dancing in the Sky (2004), the post-hurricane Katrina reflective Blue Crescent (2008), and the two part Adventures in New Orleans Jazz, Parts 1 & 2 (2011, 2012).

Michael White has received many awards, including the Chevalier of Arts & Letters from the French government in 1995, the 2008 Heritage Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts (the nation’s highest award in the traditional and folk arts), the 2010 Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Humanist of the Year. He also garnered a Jazz Hero Award 2015 from the National Association of Jazz Journalists; and the 2015 Deems Taylor liner notes award from ASCAP for the Smithsonian brass band CD that he produced, wrote the liner notes, and on which he performed, and composed a song.  Michael White has forged a distinguished musical legacy as one of the authoritative figures on New Orleans Jazz.​

Deb Cotton – Associate Producer; Independent Journalist and Blogger, Gambit Weekly

When Deb “Big Red” Cotton moved to New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina, she wanted to write about food. With a background in journalism and union work in California, she had a hunger for life that pulls people to this disaster-prone city where the music never stops and politics is a wayward bus. “Big Red Cotton” became a Gambit blogger, covering the second line parades for Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs.

In 2007 she published Notes from New Orleans, a grand book with a voice to echo across time. Born in Los Angeles in 1965 to a black father and Jewish mother, Cotton spent her formative years in Oklahoma City with her father’s family, reconnecting later with her mother in California; she graduated from San Francisco State. She converted to Judaism, her mother’s faith. Jewish and black, scourge of bad politicians and champion of the second line, Deb Cotton was a life force.

“With each second line that rolled down Ursulines Avenue, New Orleans lured me from my dark brooding funk and tossed me into the fire of dancing Black folks and brass instruments bobbing down the street, burning, sweating, marching from one end of town to the other. This went on every week for months until one day, between the parades and sessions with my shrink and onset of Spring, I began to feel alive again. And the haunting images of dead floating bodies faded away,” Deb said. “This is the beauty – and the problem – with living in New Orleans. At any given moment, life and death change places with each other when you least expect it.”

During the now infamous 2013 Mother’s Day Parade, Deb was one of 18 people hit in the crossfire of a gang shooting. After 36 surgeries, she stood in federal court, arguing for sentences to allow midlife rehabilitation for the brothers charged in the shooting. Her call for forgiveness and a policy to reach youth on edge gave life to the meaning of mercy in a Shakespearean sense, blessing she who gives and he who receives. An inspiring presence, she died in May, 2017 of residual infection.​

George Ingmire – Sound Mixer/Recordist

George Ingmire has been a media producer since 1999. He holds a B.A. in anthropology and a M.F.A. in film production, both from the University of New Orleans. He can be heard weekly on WWOZ (Wednesdays from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. CST), where he programs the “New Orleans Music Show.”  From 2008 to 2016, he produced internationally syndicated radio programs, “New Orleans Calling”/“New Orleans All the Way Live”, about the music, food and culture of the Crescent City.

​In film, he has worked as a sound mixer/recordist for directors that include Spike Lee, Barbara Kopple and Harry Shearer, in New Orleans, as well as Haiti, Peru, Bahamas, Mexico and Columbia. His personal film work includes Think of Me First as a Person, an eight-minute documentary about a boy with Down Syndrome — one of only 25 films to be recognized by the National Film Registry (Library of Congress) in December of 2006.

Jay Weigel – Score Composer

www.jayweigel.com | www.scoreneworleans.com

Jay Weigel is a distinguished composer, producer, conductor, arranger, orchestrator, and contractor for film, television, recordings, and concerts.  Based in New Orleans, he has worked in the film and television industry for over 30 years.  His recent scores and soundtrack recordings can be heard in the Warner Brothers films including, The Campaign, Green LanternGrudge MatchGet Hard, and Midnight Special; over seven of Tyler Perry’s films and TV series Too Close To Home, including For Colored GirlsMeet the BrownsMadea Witness Protection, and Madea Goes to Jail; HBO’s Little BritainI Love You Phillip MorrisBullet to the Head; and numerous documentaries and independent films.

He has worked as an orchestrator, conductor, contractor and/or score preparer for composers such as George S. Clinton, Christopher Young, David Wingo, Jon Swihart, Christopher Lennertz and Terence Blanchard.  As an arranger and orchestrator, he has worked with REM, Chris Thomas King, Judith Owen, and several projects with Hal Willner.  Weigel just finished producing a CD of music by Paul Sanchez. His concert work has been commissioned by numerous symphonies around the world, including the National Symphony Orchestra, the Kennedy Center, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, St. Louis Cathedral, University of Southern Mississippi Symphony, New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and the Acadiana Symphony.

Fred Johnson, President of Black Men of Labor

Fred Johnson grew up in and around New Orleans’ Seventh Ward. As a child he was fortunate to experience firsthand the riches of the heart of New Orleans African American culture; Parade clubs, Black Indians, Brass Bands and its musical, social and economic by-products. Fred first masked Indian at the age of 13 with Chief Tootie and the Yellow Pocahontas. He served as Spy Boy for 17 years, fulfilling the huge daily spiritual, physical and financial commitment which truly being an Indian demands; designing and sewing suits year around, practices, the musical and vocal traditions, all culminating in coming out on Mardi Gras Day and St. Joseph’s Night.  For almost over 2 decades with Tambourine and Fan; the community organization dedicated to providing an alternative to drugs for local youth through immersion in cultural and character building; Fred mentored and encouraged many young men, who today are active members of the cultural community.  In 1993 Fred and musicians Benny Jones and Greg Stafford founded The Black Men of Labor Parade Club. BMOL focus is on preserving the history and culture of traditional Jazz music which is passed on from generation to generation. With its 20 members, The Black Men of Labor has consistently produced an annual parade which attracts hundreds of diverse people each year in a most peaceful and jovial atmosphere. The BMOL seek to preserve traditional New Orleans Jazz by hiring musicians that play New Orleans Jazz Music as it was performed by such great Brass Bands as the Olympia, the Onward, the Tuxedo and the Eureka. It is the belief of the BMOL that more than any other single element of New Orleans culture, traditional New Orleans Jazz music is responsible for the City’s worldwide fame.

Over the years Fred has participated in numerous interviews and documentaries, freely giving his valuable historical knowledge and unique insight. A creator and preserve of culture, a mentor, a community leader, a father and grandfather; Fred Johnson’s life and achievements have made an indelible mark on the culture of New Orleans. As he goes forward, Fred continues to hold fast to his commitment to help people achieve wealth through homeownership and the traditions and ideals of the culture which created him.

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 coproduced 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.

Titos Sompa, Congo Square Musical Director and Choreographer

A supremely gifted singer, composer, recording artist, choreographer, storyteller, artisan of African folk crafts, producer, director, trainer, and teacher, founded the first Congolese dance company (Tanawa Dance Company) in America. He joined the New York dance and theater scene, and performed with James Earl Jones and Ann Miller, along with such jazz greats as Elvin Jones, Eddie Jefferson, Sun Ra, Ron Carter, Leon Thomas, Pharaoh Sanders, Dave Murray, Arthur Blythe, Olu Dara, and Chico Freeman, among others, before relocating in California where he became a magnet for the Congolese artistic community. Over the years he has trained and nurtured numerous Congolese artists, including Mbemba Jean Louis, Malonga Casquelourd, and Samba Ngo, as well as Fred Simpson, Oba Babatunde, and Monte Hallison, who later became masters in their own right. In 1988, Mr. Sompa founded Mbongi Dance Theatre Project, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to advancing and celebrating the cultural arts of Africa, especially the music and dance of the Congo. In October 2020, Mr. Sompa fulfilled a lifelong dream to relocate to New Orleans, Louisiana to share his knowledge and art in America’s “most African city.”

Key Crew

Andrea Queeley, Voiceover Artist and Consultant

Alison Parker, Costume Designer for the Congo Square Sequence

Philip Braun, Videographer

Jake Springfield, Videographer

Crista Rock, Videographer

Sazerac Sound

Kyoto Color

Historical Advisors:

Bruce Boyd Raeburn (Director of Hogan Jazz Archive, Tulane University)

Monique Moss (Historian, Choreographer, Professor of Dance at Tulane University, Creative Director of this film’s Congo Square Reenactment)

Emily Suzanne Clark (Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Gonzaga University)

Freddi Evans (independent scholar; author of Congo Square: African Roots in New Orleans)

Richard Campanella (Architecture/Geography, Tulane University)

William Ferris (Associate Director, Center for the Study of the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)