New Orleans, city of jazz and Mardi Gras at the shores of the Mississippi river, is the setting for Heirs. Between French flair and African rhythms, ballrooms and street parades, Heirs explores the Crescent City’s heritage of racist injustices – and the roots of its famous arts.

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Heirs follows three New Orleanian artists — percussionist Jason Marsalis (youngest member of the Marsalis music dynasty), experimental theater artist and Carnival Queen Lisa D’Amour and legendary Mardi Gras Indian Chief Darryl Montana — on journeys to their families’ artistic histories and struggles through racial segregation. These three amazing artists have given director Sascha Just unusual access to their lives and work, resulting in exclusive footage of Mardi Gras preparations and never-before-seen footage of a traditional New Orleans carnival ball from the D’Amour family archives. Jason Marsalis even revamps long-forgotten music — a unique find — by the first musician in his family, clarinetist Alphonse Picou.

Jason Marsalis wrote the film music. Inspired by the various New Orleans music traditions his modern jazz score reflects the film’s motif of how the past shapes the present, how the old creates the new. Uniquely, his music features themes for each of the main protagonists that express their personal and cultural legacies.