SYNOPSIS: 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 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.
When the Drum is Beating was an official selection at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.