RECOMMENDED ★★★ - Video Librarian | "Exquisitely filmed and optimistic" - Library Journal | MOST INSPIRATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FEATURE - Orlando Film FestivalCaribbean Studies • Ethnomusicology • Africana Studies • Disaster Studies • Sociology
Date of Completion: 2016 | Run Time: 70 minutes | Language: Haitian Creole & French with English subtitles | Captions: No | Includes: Transcript & High School Study Guide | Director: Owsley Brown | Producers: Owsley Brown, Anne Flatté & Christy McGill
Filmed over a seven-year period that began before the earthquake of 2010, SERENADE FOR HAITI (Serenad pou Ayiti) illustrates the incredible power of music, art, and education to hold together one community through tragedy, upheaval, and uncertainty. The documentary captures a rare view of Haiti, a complex and widely misunderstood country, and finds a story of transcendence and great humanity as the students and teachers of the Sainte Trinité Music School turn to music and education to unlock the power of their own lives. Devotion to each other and to the possibilities that the future still holds for them are expressed in the footage of children rehearsing in the rubble and in the rich musical heritage they have inherited.
Directed by the award-winning documentary filmmaker Owsley Brown (Night Waltz: The Music of Paul Bowles; Music Makes a City), the film probes the fragile connections that bind generations as faculty and students commit to maintaining and passing down the musical legacy of their troubled country. Featuring the vivid cinematography of Marcel Cabrera and sound design by Academy Award winner (Apocalypse Now), Richard Beggs (Children of Men; Lost in Translation; The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), the film ventures deep into the streets of urban Port-au-Prince and journeys into Haiti’s diverse and beautiful rural regions. The soundtrack features the compositions of Haiti’s important classical composers whose work has until now been largely undiscovered by international audiences.
Video Librarian ★★★
Reviewed by K. Fennessy
"Sainte Trinité symbolizes Haiti itself, working to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds while preserving its best qualities, including a passion for musical expression. Recommended."
Library Journal | Bill Baars, formerly with Lake Oswego Public Library
"Exquisitely filmed and optimistic, this production finds the delight in the midst of turmoil and chaos. It is a wonder to watch the students find the right notes and to see teachers, parents, and children reach a place of harmony."
Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO) | Reviewed by Bonnie Jo Dopp, Librarian Emerita, University of Maryland
"Educational takeaways from this will be greatest for people studying Haitian culture and contemporary social life and perhaps Caribbean music. Churches with outreach to Haiti and libraries serving Haitian communities should consider including this film in their programming."
Spirituality & Health Magazine | Reviewed by Bilge Ebiri
"Owsley Brown’s documentary, filmed over seven years, looks at the school, the students, its teachers, and its mission. But it does so in a very clear-eyed way: the violence and desperation of the streets and fields are never far. Offsetting that, however, is the beautiful music emanating from Sainte Trinité’s halls, and the genuine inspiration its students are evidently finding there."
Most Inspirational Documentary Feature | Orlando Film Festival
Programmer's Award | Virginia Film Festival
Juried Competition for Best Documentary Feature Nominee | DOC NYC
Knight Documentary Achievement Award Nominee | Miami Film Festival
Golden Gate Award Nominee | San Francisco International Film Festival
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The College Music Society National Conference
Caribbean Studies Association
United Nations Association Film Festival