Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: City of a Million Dreams
To most people, jazz funerals are a mystery.
In 2005, writer and videographer Deb Cotton leaves “hard-hearted Hollywood” for New Orleans, and becomes a chronicler of the parading club culture spawned by the legacy of funerals with music. This tradition is carried by the prolific clarinetist Michael White, renowned for playing “the widow’s wail” in sorrowful dirges. When Hurricane Katrina hits, White loses everything in the catastrophic flooding. In his struggle to rebuild, White becomes an everyman, embodying the resurrection spirit of jazz funerals.
Deb and Michael take us on a journey into the city’s past, searching for answers in the face of tragedies both present and past.
As Deb follows the parading culture through the aching recovery, Michael explores his ancestral roots in the dawn of jazz. The danced-memory of enslaved Africans charges a reimagining of antebellum Congo Square, juxtaposed with the grandeur of European marching bands. With burial pageants as a mirror on the city’s history, the film hits a violent turning point at a parade shooting, plunging Deb Cotton and Michael White into a search for the city’s soul.
Simonette Co-Produced and Production Designed City of a Million Dreams, and she was also part of the Writing Team. The film is making its way through festivals and community screenings around the US and Europe. It recently won "Best of Fest" at Ashland Film Festival.
Simonette currently works as an IATSE 478 labor union representative for film industry workers in Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, and Mobile, AL. Before becoming a union rep, she spent many years as a Scenic Artist, Sculptor, Moldmaker, and wearing various hats in the Art Department.
Simonette began writing in college for Louisiana Homes and Gardens Magazine and Our Louisiana Magazine, covering art, design, cuisine, travel, music, and local culture. She has also contributed to Where Magazine, Gambit, and various online publications. She has a featured essay in the Post-Katrina anthology New Orleans, What Can't Be Lost, edited by Lee Barclay and published by UL Press. She recently co-wrote the screenplay for City of a Million Dreams, which was released in 2021.