Raoul Peck’s Fatal Assistance at the French Film Festival in Richmond

March 1, 2013

In the wake of the January 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, the international community came together and billions of dollars were pledged to help recovery efforts. The cast of those willing to come to the aid of the devastated city included former US president Bill Clinton and numerous Hollywood stars. But two and a half years later, hundreds of thousands in Haiti’s capital are still living in tents, the organizations that pledged their help are defunct, and a mere fraction of the funds have arrived. The media remains focused on the efforts made by foreign sources while refusing to show the work that Hatians are putting into rebuilding their own country.

Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck spent two years documenting the failure of the international community to meet the needs of those affected by the earthquake. Fatal Assistance shows multiple humanitarian organizations working on the same project, infighting among NGOs, and new hospitals being built next to existing ones instead of where they are needed. Peck views the failure through a radical lens, showing how even in the most dire of situations, aid and politics go hand in hand.

Peck is the former Minister of Culture of Haiti, and an internationally renowned filmmaker. His acclaimed 2000 feature film, Lumumba, told the story of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba and the period around the independence of the Belgian Congo in June 1960. Stolen Images, released last year by Seven Stories Press, features the screenplay of Lumumba along with three of Peck’s other early screenplays and full color screen shots from each film.

Peck’s film will be airing at the French Film Festival in Richmond, VA, at the Byrd Theater (2908 West Cary Street, Richmond, VA, 23221) on Friday, March 22 at 7 p.m. The film will be followed by a discussion with the filmmaker.

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