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Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive
2155 Center St, Berkeley, California 94704
As part of our Owsley Brown, A Filmmaker’s Journey film series, we are screening Serenade for Haiti.
“Music is our refuge,” says a student at the Sainte Trinité Music School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. “With music... we feel we are in another world, far from troubles.” Owsley Brown’s vibrant documentary recognizes the troubles but celebrates the refuge, testifying to the role that music can play in creating community and sustaining hope under the most difficult of circumstances. Shot in Port-au-Prince over a period of years both before and after the 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands and reduced much of the city to rubble, Serenade for Haiti finds a locus of continuity at Sainte Trinité, which has been training young people in classical European and Haitian musical traditions since the 1950s. Replete with vivid images and sounds, the film focuses on interviews with students—most of them poor, some orphaned by political violence—and their teachers, many former students themselves. All speak eloquently about how the discipline of music has helped them discover their own voices and value in the world. After the quake, with the school’s stately white buildings in ruins, lessons and practice continue outdoors, maintaining a rhythm of resilience. In one teacher’s words, “The country is destroyed. All the buildings are destroyed. Music must go on. Life goes on.”
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