Made in the tradition of such true-life political thrillers as MALCOLM X and JFK, Raoul Peck's award-winning LUMUMBA is a gripping epic that dramatizes for the first time the rise and fall of legendary African leader Patrice Lumumba.
When the Congo declared its independence from Belgium in 1960, the 36-year-old, self-educated Lumumba became the first Prime Minister of the newly independent state. Called "the politico of the bush" by journalists of the day, he became a lightning rod of Cold War politics as his vision of a united Africa gained him powerful enemies in Belgium and the U.S. Lumumba would last just months in office before being brutally assassinated.
Strikingly photographed in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Belgium as civil war once again raged in the Congo, the film vividly re-creates the shocking events behind the birth of the country that became Zaire during the reign of Lumumba's former friend and eventual nemesis, Joseph Mobutu.
Born in Haiti, raised in Zaire (Congo) and France, he additionally is well-suited for the international following he has earned. He remains one of few filmmakers that successfully produce documentaries and feature films. No doubt his early travels throughout the world have informed his particular aesthetic as a filmmaker. Educated in Haiti, Zaire (Congo), France, and Germany, Peck initially studied engineering and economics at Berlin University. He worked as a journalist and photographer from 1980 to 1985. In 1988 he received his film degree from the Berlin Academy of Film and Television. Since graduation, Peck has developed short experimental works, socio-political documentaries, and features based on fact as well as fiction. His feature L’Homme sur les quais (1993) (The Man by the Shore) was the first Haitian film to be released in theatres in the United States; this feature was also selected for competition at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival. A true internationalist, Peck divides his time between Europe and the United States and for a brief time in the 1990s he served as Haiti’s Minister of Culture. For his international vision, historical and political insights, along with his potent artistic vision, he has been richly rewarded. In 1994 he was awarded the Nestor Almendros Prize by the Human Rights Watch in New York; and in 2001 he received the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award.