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Serenade for Haiti 2016

Recommended with reservations

Distributed by Good Docs
Produced by Owsley Brown, Anne Flatté, Christy McGill
Directed by Owsley Brown
DVD, color, 70 min. Haitian Creole & French with English subtitles

High School - General Adult

Date Entered: 07/30/2018

Reviewed by Bonnie Jo Dopp, Librarian Emerita, University of Maryland

Holy Trinity Music School in Port-au-Prince Haiti, began in the 1950s as part the Haitian Episcopal Church’s education outreach.This program chronicles its history and purpose with commentary from administrators, teachers, students, and parents. Made over seven years, the stories of some people are followed from well before the devastating 2010 earthquake (when there were plenty of studio rooms for teaching and practice) to the continuing struggle for hope and reconstruction (the school was destroyed). Ensembles from the school are shown in rehearsal and performance in serious Western-style vocal, orchestral, and chamber music. Calming music is played behind street sounds and scenes showing angry political protests, ‘temporary’ tent dwellings, and the awful destruction of the earthquake. Children and adults testify regarding music’s power to create its own peace and order in the midst of chaotic grief and hopelessness. Some Haitian composers are represented as are traditional instruments, especially drums.

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.


  • Most Inspirational Documentary Feature, 2017 Orlando Film Festival
  • Programmers Award, Best Documentary Feature, 2017 Virginia Film Festival