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Big Chief, Black Hawk

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Big Chief, Black Hawk
Directed byJonathan Isaac Jackson
Produced byPaul V. Fishback
Written byJonathan Isaac Jackson
Narrated byGian Smith
CinematographyJonathan Isaac Jackson and Blaze Heru
Edited byJonathan Isaac Jackson
The Colored Section
Distributed byAmerican Documentary, WORLD Channel
Release date
  • February 16, 2023 (2023-02-16) (WORLD Channel)
Running time
52 minutes
CountryUnited States

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Big Chief, Black Hawk is a 2023 documentary film written and directed by Jonathan Isaac Jackson. It chronicles "the culture" in New Orleans, Louisiana during the COVID-19 pandemic through the eyes of the youngest Big Chief in the city, Big Chief T (Terrance Williams Jr.), a member of the Mardi Gras Indians (also referred to as The Black Masking Indians).


Big Chief, Black Hawk was produced and shot in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic on a micro budget. The title of the film derives from Big Chief T's Mardi Gras Indian tribe's name, The Black Hawk Hunters, which was named after the American Indian tribal leader Black Hawk. The film documents New Orleanian links to not only Indigenous Americans, but also the Mardi Gras Indians links to African culture, as well as deals with the questions of appropriation.[1] Jackson sought to create a film that would showcase and photograph the communities and culture of New Orleans from a black New Orleanian perspective. Jackson has also stated that the music of Stevie Wonder, D'Angelo, and Solange Knowles were main influences in the construction and editing of the film.[2] The film premiered in November 2021 at The American Black Film Festival, was screened at The National Gallery of Art as part of the "Called To Curate" exhibition highlighting art from the American South in November 2022[3], and was acquired by American Documentary and WORLD Channel in June 2022 for a world premiere broadcast in February 2023.[4] The film is followed by Who In Da Mornin, a feature documentary co-directed by Jackson and Philip Williamson Jr. that continues to explore the connection between black culture and celebrations and their connections to the African Diaspora. Who In da Mornin explores Junkanoo and the story of Jan Kwaw/John Canoe.[5]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Festival awards and recognition[edit]

Premiere, American Black Film Festival (2021) [1]

Winner, Best Documentary, (2022) Black Film Festival of New Orleans [2]

Winner, Best Documentary (2022), Newark Black Film Festival [3]

Nominee, Black Reel Awards (2021)

Television broadcast[edit]

Broadcast premiere, America ReFramed, WORLD Channel, 2023 [4]


  1. "Local filmmaker to debut 'Big Chief, Black Hawk' at American Black Film Festival - OffBeat Magazine". 2021-10-05. Retrieved 2023-02-28.
  2. "An Intimate Look into Mardi Gras Indian Culture". Foundation. Retrieved 2023-02-28.
  3. "Big Chief, Black Hawk". Retrieved 2023-02-28.
  4. "America ReFramed Acquires Four New Films Highlighting Activists and Artists Around the U.S. | American Documentary". Retrieved 2023-02-28.
  5. Magazine, Smithsonian; Kingsley, Sean. "The Gold Coast King Who Fought the Might of Europe's Slave Traders". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2023-02-28.

External links[edit]


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