Raoul Peck (born 1953) is a Haitian filmmaker, of both documentary and feature films, and a political activist. From March 1996 to September 1997, he was Haiti's Minister of Culture.[1] His film I Am Not Your Negro (2016), about the life of James Baldwin and race relations in the United States, was nominated for an Oscar in January 2017.[2]

Raoul Peck
Raoul Peck Photo Call Der junge Karl Marx Berlinale 2017 04.jpg
Peck in 2017
Minister of Culture of Haiti
In office
March 1996 – October 1997
Prime MinisterRosny Smarth
Personal details
Born1953 (age 66–67)
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
ResidencePort-au-Prince, Haiti
Voorhees Township, New Jersey, U.S.
Alma materDeutsche Film- und Fernsehakademie Berlin

Early years and educationEdit

Peck was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. At the age of eight, Peck and his family (he has two younger brothers) fled the Duvalier dictatorship and joined his father in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). His father Hebert B. Peck, an agronomist, worked for the United Nations FAO and UNESCO and had taken a job there as professor of agriculture along with many Haitian professionals invited by the government to fill positions recently vacated by Belgians departing after independence. His mother, Giselle, would serve as aide and secretary to mayors of Kinshasa for many years.[3] The family resided in DRC for the next 24 years.

Peck attended schools in the DRC (Kinshasa), in the United States (Brooklyn), and in France (Orléans) where he earned a baccalaureate, before studying industrial engineering and economics at Berlin's Humboldt University. He spent a year as a New York City taxi driver and worked (1980–85) as a journalist and photographer before earning a film degree (1988) from the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (DFFB) in West Berlin.


Peck in 2014 at a conference in Frankfurt

In 1986 Peck created the film production company Velvet Film in Germany, which then produced or co-produced all his documentaries, feature films and TV dramas.[4]

Peck initially developed short experimental works and socio-political documentaries, before moving on to feature films. His feature L’Homme sur les quais (The Man by the Shore; 1993) was the first Haitian film to be released in theatres in the United States. It was also selected for competition at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival.[5]

Peck served as Minister of Culture in the Haitian government of Prime Minister Rosny Smarth (1996–97), ultimately resigning his post along with the Prime Minister and five other ministers in protest of Presidents Préval and Aristide.[6] He detailed his experiences in this position in a book, Monsieur le Ministre… jusqu'au bout de la patience. Prime Minister Smarth wrote an afterword for the book, and Russell Banks wrote the preface to the first edition.[7] On the book's re-release in 2015, Radio Metropole Haïti reviewed it as a portrait of "a formidable democratic movement that profoundly changed the country."[6]

Peck received international attention for Lumumba, his 2000 fiction feature film about Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba and the period around the independence of the Belgian Congo in June 1960.[8][9]

Cannes Film Festival 2012 Jury
(Raoul Peck is sixth from left)

A book of screenplays and images from four of Peck's major features and documentary films, called Stolen Images, was published in February 2012 by Seven Stories Press.[10]

He is president of La Fémis, the French state film school, since January 10, 2010.[11] In 2012, he was named as a member of the Jury for the Main Competition at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.[12] He won the Best Documentary prize at the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival in 2013 for Fatal Assistance.[13]

The Belgian segment of the shoot for his film Le Jeune Karl Marx (The Young Karl Marx) resumed in October 2015.[14] The film is about the friendship between Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of the Communist Manifesto, during their youth.[15]

I Am Not Your NegroEdit

In 2016, Peck's documentary film I Am Not Your Negro premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the People's Choice Award in the documentary category.[16] Shortly after, Magnolia Pictures and Amazon Studios acquired distribution rights to the film.[17][18] It was released in the US for an Oscar-qualifying theatrical run on December 9, 2016, before re-opening on February 3, 2017.[19] It received an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature for the 89th Academy Awards but the award ultimately went to director Ezra Edelman for OJ Simpson: Made in America.[20][21]

I Am Not Your Negro received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 97% based on 78 reviews, with an average rating of 9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "I Am Not Your Negro offers an incendiary snapshot of James Baldwin's crucial observations on American race relations -- and a sobering reminder of how far we've yet to go."[22] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 96 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[23]

Personal lifeEdit

Peck divides his time between Voorhees Township, New Jersey, USA; Paris, France; and Port-à-Piment, Haiti.[24]

Awards and accoladesEdit



  1. ^ Jeanne Garane, in "Peck, Raoul", Bill Marshall (ed.), France and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History, ABC-CLIO, 2005, p. 919.
  2. ^ Pope-Sussman, Raphael. "Director Raoul Peck Discusses His Oscar-Nominated James Baldwin Documentary 'I Am Not Your Negro'". Gothamist. Archived from the original on 2017-01-28. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  3. ^ Pierre-Pierre, Garry (May 8, 1996). "AT LUNCH WITH: Raoul Peck;Exporting Haitian Culture to the World". The New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  4. ^ "Velvet". www.velvet-film.com (in French). Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  5. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Man by the Shore". Festival de Cannes. Retrieved August 19, 2009.
  6. ^ a b "Raoul Peck sera en signature le samedi 12 decembre prochain". Radio Métropole Haïti (in French). December 4, 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-12-12. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  7. ^ "Haiti - Literature : The writer Russell Banks at the 3rd Edition of the International Book Fair in Haiti". HaitiLibre.com. November 12, 2015. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  8. ^ Mitchell, Elvis (June 27, 2001). "FILM REVIEW; An African Leader's Brief Blaze of Glory - NYTimes.com". New York Times. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  9. ^ Tunzelmann, Alex von (14 June 2012). "Lumumba fights its corner as a corrective to imperialism". The Guardian. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
  10. ^ "Stolen Images", Seven Stories Press.
  11. ^ "Raoul Peck nommé président de La fémis". www.afcinema.com (in French). January 14, 2010. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  12. ^ "The Jury of the 65th Festival de Cannes". festival-cannes.com. Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved April 25, 2012.
  13. ^ a b Galloway, Stephen (September 30, 2013). "Trinidad+Tobago Film Festival Crowns 'Melaza' as Best Feature". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  14. ^ Fabien Lemercier (October 1, 2015). "Raoul Peck shooting Le jeune Karl Marx". Cineuropa - the best of european cinema. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  15. ^ Obenson, Tambay A. (October 1, 2015). "Revered Haitian Filmmaker Raoul Peck Is Currently Filming 'The Young Karl Marx'". Shadow and Act. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  16. ^ Knight, Chris (September 18, 2016). "La La Land wins the People’s Choice Award at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival". National Post.
  17. ^ Lodderhose, Diana (September 15, 2016). "Magnolia Picks Up Raoul Peck’s ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ — Toronto". Deadline Hollywood.
  18. ^ McNary, Dave (January 5, 2017). "'I Am Not Your Negro' Trailer: James Baldwin Describes Race Relations in America (Watch)". Variety. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  19. ^ Hipes, Patrick (November 22, 2016). "'I Am Not Your Negro' Early Run Set In Awards-Season Ramp-Up". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  20. ^ Holmes, Linda (February 3, 2017). "Oscar Documentaries And A Foreign Language Film We Loved". NPR.org. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
  21. ^ John Breech (February 27, 2017). "'O.J. Simpson: Made in America' takes home Best Documentary at 2017 Oscars". CBSSports.com. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
  22. ^ "I Am Not Your Negro (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  23. ^ "I Am Not Your Negro". Metacritic. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  24. ^ Raoul Peck profile Archived 2011-06-07 at the Wayback Machine for the film Lumumba, Zeitgeist Films. Accessed March 17, 2011.
  25. ^ Jen Chung (January 24, 2017). "2017 Oscars Nominations: 'La La Land' Leads With Record-Tying 14 Nominations". LAist. Archived from the original on January 28, 2017. Retrieved January 25, 2017.
  26. ^ Tambay A. Obenson (October 1, 2015). "Revered Haitian Filmmaker Raoul Peck Is Currently Filming 'The Young Karl Marx'". Shadow and Act. Retrieved December 11, 2015.

External linksEdit