When the Drum Is Beating
In the northern Haitian city of Cap-Haïtien resides the country’s oldest and most beloved band, Orchestre Septentrional. Founded in 1948 by Ulrick Pierre Louis, this rotating mix of Haiti’s finest musicians has toured New York City, Toronto, Montreal and Paris, delivering a mélange of traditional voodoo music and Latin rhythms. It’s the ‘Haitian people’s band’ and it has outlasted all of the country’s political leaders. Yet this documentary is about more than the music. Since gaining independence and wealth in 1804, Haiti, the world’s first black republic, has become the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, one that yearns for a promising future. When the Drum Is Beating offers a deeper understanding into the survival of Haitian culture and Septentrional through the country’s turbulent history. Award-winning director Whitney Dow (Two Towns of Jasper) delivers a humane and truly exceptional rendering of Haiti’s pride, resistance, despair and rich artistic tradition. - Karina Rotenstein
When the Drum Is Beating also screens as part of Rooftop Docs, Hot Docs’ open-air screening program.