The New Orleans jazz funeral gets a celebration of its own with City of a Million Dreams: Parading for the Dead in New Orleans, a new documentary playing June 23 at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center.

The movie is part of the film center’s annual FILMusic Festival, which continues through June 25.

Filmmaker and historian Jason Berry will be on hand for a discussion following the screening. Mr. Berry also will sign copies of his lively, deeply-researched book City of a Million Dreams: A History of New Orleans at Year 300, which will be available in the film center lobby.

The jazz funeral — with its slow, rhythmic march to the cemetery and joyous, dancing “second line” procession filling the streets afterward — is one of New Orleans’s most beloved traditions.

“We celebrate and laugh at death. We’re sad because you’re not here any more, but we’re happy because you’re going to a better reward,” explains clarinetist Michael White in Mr. Berry’s film.

While honoring both the dead and the living, jazz funerals also embody Black resilience and community in the Deep South city.

“For someone dealing with American racism, trying to find your place in this life and society, you can be transformed into another world that really sets you free,” says Mr. White, a jazz historian as well as an accomplished musician.

The documentary mingles interviews with wildly-colorful footage of jazz funerals over the years. Mardi Gras Indians in resplendent feathered costumes rub elbows with white-clad Santeria practitioners. Social club members parade nattily in matching suits and hats. Brass blares from sousaphones, trombones and trumpets as everybody dances.

“No place else in the United States is going to let Black people take over the streets, you know, every Sunday for four hours long. It’s just not going to happen,” one film participant says.

City of a Million Dreams: Parading for the Dead in New Orleans screens Friday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at