Serenade for Haiti

70 min. In Haitian Creole & French w/English subtitles. Owsley Brown, dist. by Good Docs, www.gooddocs.net. 2018. DVD $129; acad. libs. $349; streaming + DVD $559; screening license + DVD $549. Public performance. MUSIC
This film simultaneously portrays rare beauty and unimaginable devastation. Founded by the Episcopal Church in 1913, Sainte-Trinité School added music to its curriculum in the 1950s, and it became the beating musical heart for students in the center of Port-au-Prince. Music became a tool to open doors, a place of refuge and therapy. Haiti has suffered dreadfully—political instability as well as a savage earthquake in 2010 that destroyed the school and killed 300,000—but the spirit and hard work of a supportive community of teachers and an undaunted faith in their mission means that even without a building or classrooms, this great work and the inspiration it provides continue. The film is also a love song to Haiti and its own indigenous musical culture.
VERDICT 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.—Bill Baars, formerly with Lake Oswego P.L., OR
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