August 18, 2022

For 50 years now, the city of New Orleans has been celebrating its unique and diverse blend of culture through the legendary New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Touted as “the world’s greatest backyard barbecue,” the fest brings together great food, great music, and great people for a massive, fabulous party featuring over 7,000 artists on fourteen separate stages for eight days straight. Sony Pictures Classics is commemorating 50 years of New Orleans’ greatest party with the documentary Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story which just received a new trailer.

Helmed by five-time Academy Award nominee Frank Marshall and co-director Ryan Suffern, Jazz Fest follows the history of the Jazz & Heritage Festival which began in 1970 amidst a hotbed of jazz and soul in Louisiana. The film features some of the biggest names to ever play on-stage at the fest, including Jimmy Buffett, Bruce Springsteen, Katy Perry, Pitbull, Al Green, Herbie Hancock, Aaron Neville, Earth, Wind & Fire, and many more. The intersection between Louisiana spirit and those big pop culture icons has made the venue one of the most widely-respected music and culture events on the planet.

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The trailer reflects the energy, enthusiasm, and pride surrounding this legendary festival. All throughout you have musicians and New Orleans citizens gushing about the fest, from the enormous scale of the performances to the delicious food around every corner, and the meshing of artists in one giant melting pot. Beyond that, the trailer makes it clear how important Jazz Fest is to the spirit of New Orleans. Spliced in with interview clips are pieces of film from previous festivals, showing the resilience and enduring importance of the event to this day. Even after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Jazz Fest endured, invoking a full-blown revival of soul in the city. For as much as the festival is the focal point, Jazz Fest‘s trailer really highlights that it wouldn’t be possible without New Orleans.

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Image via Sony Pictures Classics

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While Marshall has gotten most of his love in Hollywood for helping produce films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, he’s no stranger to directing musical biopics and documentaries. Recently, he headed the Bee Gees doc How Can You Mend a Broken Heart as well as Carole King & James Taylor: Just Call Out My Name. He’s reuniting with Suffern, who also served as a producer on both docs.

Here’s the official synopsis for the film:

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell, aka “Jazz Fest,” is the signature annual music and cultural event of the city and has been called America’s greatest festival. Celebrating the music, food, and arts and crafts of all of Louisiana since 1970, Jazz Fest is an essential showcase of the rich heritage of the region, and hundreds of thousands attend the event each year. Local music heroes are joined on 14 stages by some of the most important figures in entertainment, highlighting the connections between Louisiana culture and the world. JAZZ FEST: A NEW ORLEANS STORY weaves together live performances and interviews from the 50th anniversary of the iconic festival, featuring some of the biggest names in the music industry, along with a wealth of archival documentary footage from the past half century. This film not only captures the Festival in all of its beauty and glory, but also delves deep into the rich culture of The Big Easy.

Jazz Fest is set to premiere at SXSW on March 16 before coming to theaters in New York and Los Angeles on May 13. Check out the trailer below to see the spirit of New Orleans come alive at Jazz Fest.


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