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NYS Writers Institute, October 11, 2002
4:00 p.m. Seminar | West Seminar Room, Science Library
7:00 p.m. Film screening and Commentary | Page Hall, 135 Western Ave., Downtown Campus


Seminar, 10/11/02Film director Raoul Peck was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. In 1961, when Peck was eight years old, his family fled the brutal Duvalier regime to the Republic of Congo, where they resided on and off for 25 years. After studying economics and industrial engineering, Peck attended film school at the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin. While a student, he made his first feature film Haitian Corner (1989). Set in New York and Haiti, the French and Creole-language film is the story of a Haitian poet and former political prisoner who believes he has glimpsed one of his torturers on the streets of Brooklyn.

Following the success of Haitian Corner, Peck went on to teach at his alma mater in Berlin and at F.E.M.I.S., the national film school of France. In the early '90s, Peck was appointed Haiti's Minister of Culture by Prime Minister Rosny Smarth, but resigned 18 months later because of political disagreements.

LumumbaRaoul Peck's latest feature film, Lumumba (2000), presents the political odyssey of Patrice Emery Lumumba, the "Elvis Presley of African politics" and first Prime Minister of the Republic of Congo. The prizewinning film recalls Lumumba's beginnings as a beer salesman, his rise to leadership of the Congolese National Movement, and his eventual murder by CIA-backed political enemies a mere nine months after taking office as Prime Minister.

Lumumba received top prizes at film festivals around the world, including the 2001 Pan-African Film Festival in Los Angeles; the 11 th Annual African Film Festival in Milan, Italy; and FESPACO (sub-Saharan Africa's leading film festival) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The film was also selected for presentation at the Directors, Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival.

"[Lumumba] practically bursts from the screen. ..Peck delivers a burning political epic that reaches far beyond its borders. ..." - Vanity Fair

"a model of how to film history." - People Magazine

"A rare and significant biopic. ..an impassioned, at times thrilling re-creation of the birth of the country that became Zaire and is now known as Congo again." - Variety

Raoul Peck, NYS Writers Institute, 10/11/02Peck's most recent film is the 2001 documentary, Profit and Nothing Butt, an examination of the devastating impact of the global 'capitalist economy on the Third World, particularly Haiti. Le Monde called the film, " A journey of discovery ... Archive documents, extracts from films, music-all of this engages us, provokes us, seizes us."

Raoul Peck is president of Fond Sud, a foundation sponsored by the French Foreign Ministry that allocates money .for film production in developing countries. He is also founder of the Foundation Forum Eldorado, an organization that promotes cultural programs and institutions in Haiti and the Caribbean.

For his work on behalf of culture and human rights in the Third World, Peck received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the organization, Human Rights Watch. Peck is also a knight of the Order of Arts and Literature in France, and of the Merit Order in Haiti.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.