Film festival to feature ‘City of A Million Dreams’

By Shirley Hawkins

Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — As a boy, Torrence Brannon-Reese, the founder and CEO of FAMLI, recalls the celebratory jazz funerals in his hometown of New Orleans where the recently deceased were lauded with music and dancing on the way to their final resting place.

FAMLI, a nonprofit organization dedicated to youth mentoring and leadership, will be showing “City of A Million Dreams,” the groundbreaking documentary about jazz funerals in New Orleans, as part of the 12th annual I’ve Known Rivers Film Festival from 5 to 8 p.m. Dec 3 at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., before continuing Dec. 5-9 at the Barbara Morrison Performing arts Center in Leimert Park. 

The film festival is a fundraiser for FAMLI.

“New Orleans is a magical city,” Reese said. “There’s a love for the culture and the spirit of the people. It  is the most African city in this country and we retain more of our African values, mores and traditions through dancing and culture.

“One of the historical places where slaves would meet was Congo square,” Reese said. “It is a space where on Sundays the slave masters would allow the slaves to go and socialize. Even though we were enslaved, we expressed ourselves through dancing and music where we found freedom and liberation.”

Directed by New Orleans-based filmmaker and writer Jason Berry, “City of A Million Dreams,” provides a critical and immersive exploration of the heart and soul of New Orleans.

The film will be followed with a round table discussion with Berry, choreographer Monique Moss, film editor and co-producer Tim Watson, production designer and writer Simonette Berry, director of photography Harris Done and educator and jazz musician Michael White.

The film festival will screen “Bobi Wine, the People’s President” from 5 to 11 p.m. at the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center in Leimert Park. 

“Bobi Wine, the People’s President” is a compelling documentary that sheds light on the courageous Ugandan musician-activist-politician Bobi Wine, who challenged the status quo in his country, despite facing threats to his life. 

To further enhance the New Orleans experience, Brannon-Reese and his band, Everything with Soul, will perform live, capturing the vibrant sounds of the city.   

For a complete festival schedule and more information, visit, call 323-245-2133, or email

Shirley Hawkins is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers. She can be reached at