When The Drum Is Beating To Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival
The feature documentary by director Whitney Dow (Two Towns of Jasper) about Haiti's rich musical culture and the legendary and beloved band the Orchestre Septentrional.
Through its sweeping historical narrative and infectious music, When The Drum Is Beating captures the nuances and complexities that make Haiti one of the most fascinating countries in the hemisphere. In his exploration of the "Haitian people's band," Dow delivers a humane and profound understanding of the pride, resistance, despair and rich artistic tradition of Haiti itself.
The film will be featured as a centerpiece of the festival with a special event at the Tribeca Drive-In where excerpts from the film will be shown and Septentrional will perform live in a free open-air concert on April 22 at the North Cove in Battery Park City.
When The Drum Is Beating is a feature documentary that interweaves the extraordinary story of Orchestre Septentrional's six decades of creativity with the history of Haiti and how it went from being the first free black republic with a huge wealth of natural resources to a shattered country that cannot support its citizens. The film moves back and forth in time between the past and present, and gives broad context to the current problems facing the country: from the brutality of French colonialism and the bloody revolution that brought Haitians their freedom to the crushing foreign debt and the 15 year American occupation that helped usher in the brutal dictatorship of François "Papa Doc" Duvalier. We see the hope that was created by the rise of Jean Bertrand Aristide, and the despair that followed the coup that drove him from power. Most importantly, we learn how all these events contributed to creating the conditions that made the horrific death toll of the earthquake inevitable.
The story of Septentrional and its continued existence in a place where little survives – not governments, monuments, art works, cities, lives nor even the very landscape – is uniquely Haitian. Through its sweeping narrative, infectious music, tension-filled encounters and the musicians' passionate dreams, the film goes to the core of what makes Haiti one of the most fascinating countries in the hemisphere. When The Drum Is Beating allows the viewer to see, feel and hear the passion, commitment and joy of Septentrional's musicians, and through them, the unique Haitian spirit.