David Bianculli directs your attention to a CBS documentary airing this Saturday called The Whole Gritty City, and it follows young student marching bands as they prepare for coveted spots in the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans:
48 Hours Presents: The Whole Gritty City is a documentary in the Fred Wiseman mold. The film, by Richard Barber and Andre Lambertson, has no narration — it just focuses on a specific subject for a lengthy amount of time, and lets the cameras record whatever happens. And then, all that raw footage is edited. The only scene-setting comes courtesy of Wynton Marsalis, who appears at the beginning, and a few more spots during the program, to explain the concept, the context — and the stakes.
“New Orleans buries too many of its young,” says Marsalis, who was born and raised in New Orleans.
The opening scene of The Whole Gritty City turns out to be a flash-forward. We see, and hear, a very large group of young people playing band instruments outdoors, as part of a funeral service. They’re playing, sometimes, with more volume and emotion than precision, a few of them wiping tears away as they blow their horns.
photo courtesy of CBS 48 Hours Presents: The Whole Gritty City