When the Drum Is Beating

When the Drum Is Beating

  • BY Whitney Dow | IN Arts & Culture
    Premiered April 12, 2012

About the Film

In Haiti, there is one band that’s seen it all: Septentrional. For six decades, this 20-piece band has been making beautiful music – a fusion of Cuban big band and Haitian vodou beats – that turns out thousands of fans each time it plays. At the age of 62, Septentrional has already survived 12 years longer than the expected Haitian lifespan. Led by 80-year-old “Maestro” Ulrich Pierre Louis, its trumpeters, drummers, sax players, and guitarists have played through dictatorships, natural disasters, coup d’états, and chaos, navigating the ups and downs of Haiti’s history. The band embodies a particular Haitian trait: the ability to find beauty in places of darkness. MORE

When the Drum Is Beating interweaves the extraordinary story of Septentrional’s six decades of creativity with the history of Haiti. How did the country go from being the first free black republic with a huge wealth of natural resources to a shattered nation unable to support its citizens? How did the hope created by the rise of Jean Bertrand Aristide and the despair that followed the coup that drove him from power contribute to the inevitability of the January 2010 earthquake’s horrific death toll? The film gives context to the current problems facing Haiti, from the brutality of French colonialism and the bloody revolution that brought Haitians their freedom to the crushing foreign debt, the 15-year American occupation that ushered in the brutal dictatorship of “Papa Doc” Duvalier, and the earthquake that killed almost 300,000 people. The passion, commitment, dreams, and joy of Septentrional’s musicians reveal the indomitable Haitian spirit. With a sweeping narrative and infectious music, this is the story of not just one band’s survival, but also Haiti’s survival.


The Filmmaker

Whitney Dow

Whitney Dow is an award-winning filmmaker whose directing credits include Two Towns of Jasper, I Sit Where I Want: The Legacy of Brown vs Board of Education, Unfinished Country, and When the Drum is Beating. His work been screened and broadcast all over the world and received numerous honors including the Peabody, a Columbia DuPont, Gotham, and Beacon awards. Dow’s producing credits include Freedom Summer, Banished, and The Undocumented, all directed by Marco Williams; and Toots, directed by Kristi Jacobson. LESS

Film Credits

Produced and Directed by
Whitney Dow

Producers
Daniel Morel and Jane Regan

Editors
Nancy Kennedy
Federico Rosenzvit

Supervising Producer
Jenifer Latham

Featuring
Jocelyn "Ti-Bas" Alce
Yvenel "Saure" Etienne
Patrick "Papito" Noel
Frandy Altema Yvenel
Joseph R. "Zo" Emilien
Fritzner Pierre
Huggens Altema
Marc A. Fleury, Jr.
Ulrick "Maestro" Pierre-Louis
Danilo Andaevil
Jean-Willy Gustave
Odanio Sainte
Lesly Bastiens Etienne
Etienne "Artur" Jeune
Matuel Sinsmyr
Phito Zuelle Bentulien
Nikol Levy
Madsen Sylne
Evens Cesar
Dorcelus Madsen
Michel Tassy
Alce Kesmy Doreus
Jean-Herly Metellus
Rolain Valbrun

Additional Editor
Hemal Trivedi

Cinematography
Niels Alpert
Jonathan Furmanski
Tom Hurwitz
Eddie Marritz

Production Sound
David Hocs
Mark Mandler
John Zecca

Concert Sound Engineer
Mark Fiore

Still Photography
Daniel Morel

Concert Producer
Molly McBride

Associate Producer
Lisa Fisher

Production Coordinators
Sara Strahan
Dorothy Yang

Additional Production Coordinator
Eric Glatt

Additional Field Producer
Mario L. Delatour

Additional Camera
Whitney Dow
Kirsten Johnson
Jane Regan

Utility
Huttemberg Nassar

Concert Technical Key
Alexander J. Buonpensiere

Concert Lighting Crew
Miguel Batista
Jorge Gomez
Marlon Wilson Guzman Reynoso
Vincent Sainval

Concert Sound Crew
Deyloi "Chicho" Berroa
Rene Lopez
Francisco Martinez
Anthers Moreno

Septentrional Sound Technician
Wesly Jacques

Septentrional Management
Pascale Jaunay
Pierre Joachim
Rochenel Menelas
Ulrick "Rico" Pierre-Louis

Sound Edit & Design
Rob Daly

Re-Recording Mixer & Additional Sound Editing
Tom Efinger

Music Mixing Engineer
Jeff Seelye

Audio Post Facility Producer
Alicia Loving

Concert Pre-Mixer
James Landry

Original Score
Sasha Gordon

Graphic and Title Design
2x4

Colorist & Supervising Conforming Editor
Benjamin Murray

Assistant Conforming Editor
Michael Reale

Post Production Coordinator
Christine Canedo

Executive Producer for Two Tone Productions
Marco Williams

Translator
Jane Regan

Development Editors
Emir Lewis
David Petersen
Jean Tsien

Assistant Editors
Laurent Hugon
David Marks

Voiceovers
Whitney Dow
Rick Wysocki

Archival Research
Susan Hormuth
Karen Kramer
Kati Meister

Production Assistants
Benjamin Ernst
Thomas McCormack
Amir Modak
Vanessa Moreno
Marcus Rogers

Archival Footage and Photos Courtesy of

ABC News Videosource
Akg-images
Christian Als / Scanpix - Berlingske Media A/S
Artists Rights Society
Daniel Bowen
The Bridgeman Art Library
"Haiti" by Rudy Burckhardt, Courtesy of the Estate of Rudy Burckhardt
Close Up Productions
Mario L. Delatour
Footage Farm
Global ImageWorks, LLC.
Historic Films
ITN Source - Fox Movietone
"General Jean-Jacques Dessalines presenting the Haitian Flag, 1803"
by Ulrick Jean-Pierre/ Courtesy of Dr. and Mrs. Daniel Bouchette
National Archives & Records Administration
Orchestre Septentrional
Ryan Prouty
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture / New York Public Library
James Seawood / Reformed Church in America
Snark / Art Resource
Thought Equity Motion/BBC/CBS
United Nations Visual Materials Library
University of Virginia Special Collections
U.S. Marine Corps Photo Archives
Frantz Voltaire / CIDHICA
WPA Film Library

Songs

"Plezi Chanpet"
Written by Roselin Antoine
Vocals by Michel Tassy
Performed by Orchestre Septentrional

"La Paysanne"
Written by Alfred "Fredo" Moise
Vocals by Michel Tassy
Performed by Orchestre Septentrional

"Jalouzi"
Written by Alfred "Fredo" Moise
Vocals by Michel Tassy
Performed by Orchestre Septentrional

"Semedo"
Haitian Traditional
Arrangements by Nikol Levy
Performed by Lasous

"Ti Fi A"
Written by Alfred "Fredo" Moise
Vocals by Michel Tassy
Performed by Orchestre Septentrional

"Ti Nelle"
Written by Maestro Ulrick Pierre Louis
Vocals by Roger Colas
Performed by Orchestre Septentrional

"Boul de Fe"
Written by Maestro Ulrick Pierre-Louis
Vocals by Roger Colas
Performed by Orchestre Septentrional

"Washington Post"
Written by Peter Jackson
Courtesy Cat Bag Music/ Non Stop Music

"Fanatik Mondyal"
Written by Alfred "Fredo" Moise
Vocals by Michel Tassy
Performed by Orchestre Septentrional

"Blaspheme"
Written by Maestro Ulrick Pierre-Louis
Vocals by Roger Colas
Performed by Orchestre Septentrional

"Pase Cheve"
Written by Roger Colas
Vocals by Yvenel "Saure" Etienne
Performed by Orchestre Septentrional

"Tet A Tet"
Written by Marcel "Tonton" Gilles
Vocals by Yvenel "Saure" Etienne
Performed by Orchestre Septentrional

"Vanite"
Written by Maestro Ulrick Pierre-Louis
Vocals by Roger Colas
Performed by Orchestre Septentrional

"Semedo"
Haitian Traditional
Arrangement by Nikol Levy
Performed by Govi

"Cite du Cap-Haitien"
Written by Maestro Ulrick Pierre-Louis
Vocals by Roger Colas
Performed by Orchestre Septentrional

"Rele Lwa"
Haitian Traditional
Arrangement by Nikol Levy
Performed by Govi

"Prezidan A Vi"
Written by Alfred "Fredo" Moise
Vocals by Roger Colas
Performed by Orchestre Septentrional

"Septen Dous / Ti Fi A Medley"
Vocals by Michel Tassy and Yvenel "Saure" Etienne
Performed by Orchestre Septentrional

"Semper Fidelis"
Written by John Phillip Sousa
Performed by TBD
Courtesy of APM Music

"Tanbou Frape"
Written by Maestro Ulrick Pierre-Louis
Vocals by Michel Tassy
Performed by Orchestre Septentrional

Special Thanks

Thomasine, Henri, Clem & Mim
Chery D. Louma
Logan Abassi
Eddy Lubin
Rene Alce and Francoise Leriston
Gazniel Jean Michel
Jocel Almeus
MINUSTAH
Jean Pierre Borge
Steven Miller
Nicolas Bussenius
Michael Moore
Bernadine Colish
Fritz Nazbold
Oliver Dow
Melissa Neidich
Kathy England
Zach Niles
Robert Fatton
Sam Pollard
David Friedkin and Zane Kennedy-Friedkin
Michael Rock
Johannes and Heidi Giradoni
Dale Robbins
Wilfred Hyppolite "Septenologue"
Jay Rubin
IBC Airlines
Susan Sellers
Max Laroche
Keith Shapiro
Kris Leim
Hans Broder Shutt
Kathleen Lingo
Shane Sigler
Tami Soto

Executive Producer for NBPC
Jacquie Jones

Executive Producer for ITVS
Sally Jo Fifer

Funding Provided by
Sundance Documentary Fund
ARTV
Mathew Badger
Barbarah and John Hanify
Elliot Hawkins
Carl Jelemy
Julia Kahrl
Bob Karetsky
Fredric King

This film is a co-production of STM Productions and the Independent Television Service (ITVS) in association with the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and produced in association with TV Ontario.

This program was produced by STM Productions, LLC. which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2011, STM Productions, LLC. All rights reserved.

This motion picture is protected under the laws of the United States, Canada, and other countries and any unauthorized exhibition, distribution, adaptation, transmission or reproduction of this motion picture or any part thereof including the soundtrack may result in severe civil and criminal penalties.

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