"Big Chief, Black Hawk" (2021)

A short and intimate look into the life of the youngest Mardi Gras Indian Big Chief in New Orleans and his "tribe" as they navigate the social and environmental issues facing "the culture".

  • Jonathan Isaac Jackson
  • Jonathan Isaac Jackson
  • Paul Fishback
    Yellow Girl and Me
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    53 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    April 19, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    15,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • American Black Film Festival
    Miami, Florida
    United States
    November 3, 2021
    World Premiere
    Official Selection/Nomination (Best Documentary)
  • Black Reel Award 2022

    Nomination (Best Documentary)
  • Top 7 Hollywood South Films by nola.com

    Ranked #1
  • Black Film Festival Of New Orleans
    New Orleans
    United States
    March 31, 2022
    Awards (Best Documentary, Best New Orleans Project), Nomination (Best Cinematography)
  • Newark Black Film Festival
    United States
    July 16, 2022
    Best Documentary
  • National Gallery of Art
    Washington D.C.
    United States
    October 1, 2022
Distribution Information
  • American Documentary/WORLD Channel
    Country: United States
    Rights: Internet, Free TV
Director Biography - Jonathan Isaac Jackson

Jonathan Isaac Jackson is a Managing Partner at The Colored Section, along with Philip Williamson Jr.

The Colored Section is a Creative Agency and Independent Film Production Company based in New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, specializing in creating short form content and films, independently distributing them internationally through streaming sites like REVRY and Amazon.

The Colored Section has had films selected and screened in The New Orleans Film Festival (2014-2019), PBS Online Film Festival (2016), San Francisco Black Film Festival (2017), and the New York Film Festival (2017), among many others.

Mr. Jackson was selected for The New Orleans Film Festivals inaugural "Emerging Voices" program, sponsored by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2014. In the program, Jonathan was mentored by Emmy Award nominated and Peabody Award winning director/producer Dawn Porter, whose films include documentary's "Gideon's Army" (HBO), "Spies Of Mississippi" (PBS), and "Trapped" (Sundance). Jonathan was also selected into the Top 200 in HBO's "Project Greenlight", as well as Top 3 in 2016's PBS Online Film Festival for his film "Greenlight", which made its official world premiere "in competition" at The New Orleans Film Festival 2015. Jonathan and Philip were 2016 and 2017 Magnifying Glass Grant Award Winners for "After Claudetteia" and "The Fire Next Time...", as well as winners of the Princeton Tiger Award in 2018. Their films have screened all over the US, as well as internationally.

In 2019, Jonathan released his sci-fi short “the girl And her Electric Sheep”, as well as “mor-Ale”, a web series he produced with Philip in Philadelphia. Jonathan also directed 6 music videos for music artist PERK that were shot in New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, and ended the year beginning a documentary called "Big Chief, Black Hawk".

In 2022, Jonathan looks to learn more about the craft of filmmaking while pursuing his MFA at Howard University.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

What was your first cultural experience? The Masking Mardi Gras Indian culture has many origin stories, with some saying that it began as an homage to Native Americans giving refuge to escaped slaves, to others saying that it began as an offshoot of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and the Buffalo Soldiers exposure to Native Americans during America’s westward campaign. What we do know is that from the time that Americans decided to become a nation and to expand from the Atlantic to the Pacific, Native Americans were killed and moved from their land for the sake of capitalism. In New Orleans, the fears of the African American community are similar… that over time, the culture can slowly disappear, and what’s left will only be a memory of the people who suffered through pain and died to pass along traditions that can be traced back to Africa. In a city that still has a majority African American population, the influx of other races is changing the makeup of New Orleans. And although African Americans have been the majority of NOLA’s residents, they are minorities in wealth and ownership. That’s why the Masking Indians are so important. They challenge you to look into the past... to look at Indigenous cultures and the Masking Indians after them. To see the similarities to what has happened to culture, and what is happening now. Masking began out of protest. Masking was a way for African Americans to “parade” in their own neighborhoods, with their “kings” being “chiefs”. This culture is not something you can take away from the area. The food can be made and sold elsewhere, and the music can be played elsewhere, but the basis of the culture is not something that can be transferred, and as we lose the people who keep the history of this culture going, the question is… “what will happen to the culture of New Orleans when its people are gone?”. There will always be stories told of who we are. Some, we tell, some that are told about us. It’s up to us to find ways in which we can document ourselves, whether it be through a film, or through our suits. Through trying times, we have learned that we can look to the past to see our own way to the future. We learn to listen to the voice inside us, an ancestral voice, a voice that shows us the way if we can only have patience, look, and listen. We know that we can find the way and that it was inside us all along. We need to be reminded of where we come from and where we’re going. Over this pandemic, we have learned how to better express our experiences and those of our ancestors. We’re learning how to show the world through our own eyes, and how to express our joy, pain, & trauma through connecting. I can only hope that we will be to connect to audiences, specifically the African diaspora, and will be allowed to add these voices to the diaspora.