After a decade of false starts, the first New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival opened in 1970, and in 2019 celebrated its 50th anniversary. That occasion is the subject of Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story, a vivid documentary that earns its subtitle as a story of its host city.
Stream Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
The New York Times by Glenn Kenny
The ebullient history — which also cites on-site food tents as a mind-blowing component of the fest’s appeal — becomes tearful when Hurricane Katrina decimates New Orleans in 2005.
To paraphrase an admonition from a classic Rolling Stones album: This movie should be played real loud. And in venues where people can, if they choose, get up and dance.
Washington Post by Michael O'Sullivan
There are gray hairs on some of the people in this fascinating film: Jimmy Buffett, Tom Jones (yes, that Tom Jones — he played the 2019 show) and others. But the energy that the film puts out is vital and full of sap.
New Orleans Times-Picayune by Mike Scott
From a filmmaking standpoint, capturing so successfully the spirit of such a multi-faceted celebration sounds like a logistical impossibility. But here it is.
After the pure joy of the musical numbers, the best thing about this movie is that even with all of its abundance it leaves you wanting more.
Los Angeles Times by Robert Abele
“Jazz Fest” isn’t without flavor and rhythm, but what’s lacking is the thickness.
The film captures the essence of an event that “ties the city together.”
It’s a history lesson you can dance to, and at times it’s an unexpectedly mournful and moving portrait of a city that has an intimate relationship with death and damage.