17 years after filming began, a movie is finished.
Why might you care?
It’s a movie about persistence, about an African American family that not only survives Hurricane Katrina but is determined that the New Orleans culture that sustains them will continue and grow.
Begun with Academy-award winning director Jonathan Demme, Guardians of the Flame lets you into the little-known world of Mardi Gras masking, of world-class musicians, of street dancing, and what one family member calls “self-emancipation.”
The movie captures three generations of hope. It shows what one family can do, how tradition gets passed on and re-made, what it means to stand for something. It’s a rough, raucous, captivating movie that I think you’ll find was worth the 17 year wait.
Guardians of the Flame is the product of some 17 years, begun on a visit to post-Katrina New Orleans in 2006 by Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme and writer Daniel Wolff. 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.