Please Note: Since 1992, California Newsreel has distributed Raoul Peck's acclaimed documentary on Patrice Lumumba and the Congo Lumumba: la mort du prophete. Raoul Peck's feature film on Patrice Lumumba, Lumumba is being distributed by Zeitgeist Films, visit www.zeitgeistfilms.com for more information.)
Lumumba: la mort du Prophete offers a unique opportunity to reconsider the life and legacy of one of the legendary figures of modern African history. Like Malcolm X, Patrice Lumumba is remembered less for his lasting achievements than as an enduring symbol of the struggle for self-determination. This deeply personal reflection by acclaimed fimmaker Raoul Peck on the events of Lumumba's brief twelve month rise and fall is a moving memorial to a man described as a giant, a prophet, a devil, "a mystic of freedom," and "the Elvis Presley of African politics."
If Lumumba: la mort du Prophete is a film about remembering, it is even more a film about forgetting. It is not so much a conventional biography as a study of how Lumumba's legacy has been manipulated by politicians, the media and time itself. Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck meditates on his own memories as the privileged son of an agricultural expert working for the regime which displaced Lumumba. He examines home movies, photographs, old newsreels and contemporary interviews with Belgian journalists and Lumumba's own daughter to try to piece together the tragic events and betrayals of 1960.
A film essay in the tradition of Night and Fog or The Sorrow and the Pity, Lumumba: la mort du Prophete explores how any image inevitably represses the multiple stories surrounding it, how the past as preserved by the media is always in a sense the hostage of history's winners. Therefore present-day Europe figures as prominently in Lumumba as the Congo in 1960, because Europe was the unseen hand behind the camera and the events leading to Lumumba's assassination. Peck presents an unfamiliar Europe seen through the eyes of a visitor from the Third World - cold, affluent, a guilty present trying to forget its past. Yet, as this film testifies, Lumumba's prophecy will not be silenced until Africa achieves its second independence where the promises of the first can be fulfilled.