“Guardians of the Flame" Film Poster.
“Guardians of the Flame" Film Poster.
Undeterred by prejudice, post-Katrina neglect, and appropriation of their traditions, the Harrison family guard their legacy, re-defining what Black masking culture means in New Orleans


Regular price $129.00


OFFICIAL SELECTION - Maupintown Film Festival | OFFICIAL SELECTION - Indianapolis Black Documentary Film Festival

Mardi Gras • Jazz • African-American Self-Emancipation • Community Literacy • Power of Family • Beading as a Cultural Art

Date of Completion: 2023 | Run Time: 70 minutes​​ | Language: English with English, French & Spanish subtitles | Captions: Yes | Includes: Transcript | Director: Daniel WolffProducers: Bonnie Elder Yassky, Brooklyn Demme & Nkem Big Chief Brian Nelson

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 Grammys, 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.

Mary Marshall Clark, Director, Columbia University Center for Oral History Research, past president, Oral History Association. Distinguished lecturer, Organization of American Historians
"This gem of a cinematic documentary will reach inside and transform you. Walk with a family during the afterlife of Katrina in New Orleans and witness them reviving an African American community in a wasteland of government neglect, Before you know it, you may be on their side, living life with radical joy as you refuse despair. Sociologists, anthropologists, journalists, and oral historians take note! This is a film your students should see, not once but twice, or three times."

The City College & Graduate Center CUNY | Jerry W. Carlson, Professor, Department of Media & Communication Arts
"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. "

NY Foundation For the ArtsMatthew Seig
"The art and music highlighted in Guardians of the Flame is spectacular; even more so, the story being told. It's about the power of art and the role of artists in building communities that reflect the traditions and aspirations of those who live in them. Not only will it make you want to live in such a community, it will inspire you to help create one."

Emerging Equity | Tina Vasquez
“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.”