Three years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is part ghost town and part third world country. Well known musicians Lillian Boutté, Dr. Michael White, the young group ‘The Next Generation Brass Band’ and photographer Armand ‘Sheik’ Richardson use music as a philosophy and tool to save themselves and their abandoned, crumbling city. ‘The Sound After The Storm’ tells a story in which this “music born from slavery” is reborn in response to Katrina´s devastation.


With her twenty-fifth year living in Germany, the native New Orleanean Singer Lillian Boutté, has more than earned the title: Jazz Ambassador of New Orleans, an honor held previously only by Louis Armstrong. Boutté packs clubs and stadiums across the US and Europe to share her culture's easy warmth and a message: "The levee problem remains and each August is another hurricane Katrina just waiting to happen!" 
The spirit of the '20's jazz greats is alive and well in a crowded club filled with the sounds of Dr. Michael White’s clarinet. White possessed one of America’s most rare collections of jazz artifacts including original sheet music written in the hand of Jelly Roll Morton and a mouth piece blown many a night by Sidney Bechet. This collection now lies in moldy heaps on the floor of White's home, yards from a major levee breach. 
The energetic Armand “Sheik” Richardson, part photographer, part activist, part whirlwind, shoots thousands of  photos of his city, “to preserve what’s left of New Orleans for future generations.”  And a new generation of musicians is born with "The Next Generation Brass Band" a group of young new Orleaneans brought to the music by circumstances of the Hurricane itself. 
As these native new Orleaneans traverse three uncertain post-Katrina years, their paths cross in The Sound After the Storm, and show that in tough times, the music lives. 

Directors statement

New Orleans became front page news in media worldwide during the time of hurricane Katrina, but unfortunately, since then the city has been largely ignored.  Surprisingly, much of the world is now unaware that New Orleans is facing possible extinction within 10 years and that it's people are still in danger and far from recovery.  While the rest of the world seems unaware of the ongoing struggles in New Orleans, we found that people everywhere are still very interested in the city's music.  Therefore, we have chosen to relate our story through the music - which Sheik, one of the film’s main characters says, "is how you've known us through the years, and once we're not here anymore, it's what you'll remember us by."  We hope that the universality of music and its ability to transmit emotion will help kindle much needed understanding and empathy in audiences for the people struggling in New Orleans.  Our main characters refer to the New Orleans Jazz funeral when asked to relate their struggles to music because of it's message of transformation from pain to joy and death to rebirth.  Therefore, naturally the music played by our characters makes up the backbone of our story. 


production Ventura Film

co-production RSI-Radiotelevisione svizzera
Dirk Manthey Film

direction            Patrik Soergel
Ryan Fenson-Hood
Sven O. Hill

original idea Patrik Soergel

cinematography Sven O. Hill

additional camera Mauro Boscarato
Ryan Fenson-Hood
Patrik Soergel

sound recording Jeff Colon
Enos Barloggio
Patrik Soergel

edit Ryan Fenson-Hood
Patrik Soergel

music Dr. Michael White
Lilian Boutté
The Next Generation Brass Band

sound mix Thomas Knop

color correction Robin Schmude

producers Andres Pfaeffli
Elda Guidinetti

co-producers Sven O. Hill
Dirk Manthey

dramaturgial advisor            Stephanie Rieß

production manager            Nicola Bernasconi

commissioning editor RSI Luisella Realini

produced with the support of Repubblica e Cantone Ticino
FilmPlus della Svizzera italiana
Filmstiftung NRW
Kulturelle Filmförderung Schleswig-Holstein