When the Drum is Beating

The 20-member band Septentrional has been making music for 62 years as Haiti's most celebrated big band. This inspirational doc charts the history of Haiti from its independence from French colonialism to 2010's devastating earthquake-all set to the vibrant music of Septentrional and punctuated with personal memories.

Arts, Culture, & Sports, Global Perspectives

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About the Film

The 20-member band Septentrional has been making music for 62 years as Haiti’s most celebrated big band. This inspirational documentary charts the history of Haiti from its triumphant independence from French colonialism to 2010’s devastating earthquake—all set to the vibrant music of Septentrional and punctuated with its members’ personal memories. Featuring a wealth of live rehearsal and performance footage, When the Drum is Beating is a poignant and high-energy story of resilience.

Film In Context

Haiti Past and Present

On January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the republic of Haiti, leaving the country in ruins. The quake not only shattered Haiti’s already poor infrastructure, it also devastated a nation already in the grips of poverty, leaving an estimated one million people homeless, while affecting the lives of an estimated three million people. According to the Haitian government:

In order to understand the devastation wreaked by the earthquake, the impact of which is unimaginable in a highly industrialized country like the US, we need to first look at Haiti’s tumultuous history. Did you know:

The recent presidential elections in Haiti are seen as a step toward renewal, as the country currently struggles to pick up the pieces. Today, numerous non-governmental organizations like Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, the Clinton Bush Fund, CARE, etc. are on the ground, aiding with the rebuilding process. While it is estimated that the process may take decades, current efforts aimed at restoring the country’s infrastructure through the building of hospitals, schools, ports, etc. aim to bring the small nation back from the brink.