July 22, 2024


Showing: Wednesday, December 13, 8:00 PM
Title: Guardians Of The Flame
Year: 2023
Country: USA
Genre: ,

View Trailer
Purchase Tickets Now

Directed by Daniel Wolff
Produced by Bonnie Elder Yassky and Brooklyn Demme
Cinematography by Jonathan Demme
Edited by Marta Renzi
2023, USA, 70 minutes

Undeterred by decades of prejudice, post-Katrina neglect, and ongoing appropriation of their traditions, three generations of the extraordinary, multi-talented Harrison family guard their legacy and define what Black masking culture means in New Orleans today.

Cinematographer Jonathan Demme and writer Daniel Wolff began visiting the Harrison family a few months after Katrina. Their visits continued, 4-times-a-year, for the next six years. After Demme’s death, in 2017, Wolff, Demme’s son Brooklyn, and a film crew returned to New Orleans in 2019 to bring the project up to date. The desire to finish this project and the persistence to do so comes from the Harrison family’s inspirational work in what Cherice Harrison-Nelson calls “self-emancipation.” Long before Katrina and in the years since, the Harrisons have forged cultural weapons to resist racism and oppression both locally and on a national scale. As this film documents, their tools include music, beading, masking, literacy, and community building. Whether handing out books to pre-schoolers, being nominated for Grammies, making films, or sewing elaborate ceremonial clothing, the Harrisons have kept their eyes on the prize. Guardians of the Flame offers a decade-and-a-half overview of one family’s trials and eventual triumph.

Discussion after the film with Daniel Wolff and Marta Renzi.

“It is rare to be invited into the deeper layers that bind a community of people together. Guardians of the Flame allows us to sit in on one extraordinary family and – while we relish the most joyous and beautiful expressions of rhythm, color and artistry – to ponder what we safeguard and what legacy we are building. While no film may ever be able to encapsulate a whole people’s culture, Guardians conveys what can be with reverence and importance.”
Tina Vasquez, Artist / CEO, Emerging Equity

“If America is a melting pot, then New Orleans is its gumbo recipe. While Hurricane Katrina destroyed lives and property, it also threatened the gumbo itself, the rich African-inflected culture of the city. The intimate documentary GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME  immerses us in the activism of the Harrison family as they work on a day-to-day basis to make sure that the flavors of their city never lose their taste. More than a decade in the making, this candidly observed film will spur any spectator to join the fight to preserve New Orleans’ unique traditions and carry them into the future.”
Jerry W. Carlson, Ph.D., Department of Media and Communication Arts, The City College CUNY