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Preview PBS Doc “When the Drum is Beating,” Exploring 6 Decades of Haitian History Through Music

Preview PBS Doc "When the Drum is Beating," Exploring 6 Decades of Haitian History Through Music

When the Drum is Beating tells the story of six decades of Haitian history seen through the lens of Septentrional – a 20-piece band whose fusion of Cuban big band and Hatian voodoo beats continued through dictatorships, natural disasters, coup d’états, and chaos, navigating the ups and downs, the glory and the tragedy of the country.

Directed by Whitney Dow, the 84-minute documentary toured the film festival circuit during 2011 and will have its broadcast premiere on PBS on April 12.

From the site:

When the Drum is Beating interweaves the extraordinary story of Septentrional with that of Haiti: 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 ushered in the brutal dictatorship of François “Papa Doc” Duvalier. We see the hope that was created by Jean Bertrand Aristide, and the despair that followed after he was driven from power. And we are there as Haiti endures an earthquake that kills almost 300,000 people and tears apart the social fabric of the country.  

See the trailer below:

For more on the film, visit

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