In a fortress perched on the top of a mountain, a democratically elected "President" and his closest collaborators are getting ready for a state celebration. Foreign chiefs of state and dignitaries of all sorts are expected. But in the morning of the event, he wakes up to find the country inflamed the streets in turmoil. As the day goes on, rebellion worsens. Meanwhile, expected guests are withdrawing from the party one after another…
Despite the situation, the President does not want to face reality and refuses to resign. Overwhelmed, he plunges into a deep mental confusion as the events follow their course.
Contains: Sexual Content (15+)
Réalisateur, scénariste, producteur/Director, screnwriter and Producer : Raoul PECK
France, Haiti/2009/French, English, Creole dialogue with English subtitles/Colour/HDCAM/105 mins
With this film I wanted to explore the often hidden side of power. No doubt, an occasion for me to revisit my own political experiences in Haiti and elsewhere.
What's the final day like for a man with unrestrained power, whose supremacy has never been challenged, who is now plunging dizzyingly into a black hole of events he cannot control?
I wanted to explore what happens behind closed doors, during a tragic and unruly "Farewell to Arms", when everything becomes possible and irretrievable at the same time? Redemption as well as demise. During these minute gaps in History, a person reveals crudely his true essence, his fears, and his desires - given that there is no time left for craftiness.
We might even see a little bit of ourselves in these characters. With this film, I also wanted to return to my country. I wanted to re-examine, with a Shakespearian perspective, the tragic and foolish nonsense of the past 60 years of upheaval. A battle for "democracy" which took no prisoner. Nowhere else but in Haiti has reality generated so much confusion and so many contradictions.
We chose to shoot Moloch Tropical in a unique location, the Citadelle Henry, built by King Henry Christophe at the beginning of the 19th Century atop a steep mountain. With a size of approximately 100,000 square feet, it is the largest fortress in the Western Hemisphere. Perhaps, more importantly it is the indestructible symbol of the only nation in human history that was created by victorious slaves. The single and unique time in which the trail of slavery which began in Gorée Island (another symbol) was permanently broken.
But at what cost?
an audacious stroke, Raoul Peck claims Alexander Sokurov's Moloch as his own. Transplanting the Russian director's unsettling mountain idyll between Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun from Bavaria to the green heat of Haiti, Peck tucks a searing critique of absolute power within the most elegant chamber drama. It's a masterful move.
As it happens, Haiti has a castle even more impressive than Sokurov's, high atop a mountain outside Port-au-Prince. Built from massive stone blocks that seem to rise up out of the jungle, it is a remnant of colonial power and debauchery hiding in the mists. Peck uses this setting to increasingly shattering effect.
It is from this height that the President rules. Styling himself an imperial monarch, he rattles paranoid around the enormous castle, as isolated and fragile as one of Shakespeare's mad kings. Obsessed equally with what the television tells him and the comely shape of his new maid, he enforces rules with an erratic terror common to many despots.
There is without doubt a coiled rage within Moloch Tropical, but it releases its critique with tremendous discipline. The President jails and tortures a dissident journalist, then dresses him up and invites him to his dinner table. He prepares for a visit by international diplomats, insisting that he needs a white face in the picture to give his rule legitimacy. Instead of scattergun satire, Peck introduces with each scene a growing sense of quiet absurdity.
Even without reference to Haiti's recent history, Moloch Tropical stands as a major work that synthesizes political analysis, symbolic art and a particularly Caribbean approach to tragedy. It may be worth remembering that, in addition to directing landmark works of diasporic African cinema - Lumumba: La Mort du prophète, Sometimes in April - Raoul Peck also once served as Haiti's minister of culture.
Cameron Bailey (Toronto Film Festival, 2009)
To purchase the NTSC DVD, with English, French and Spanish subtitles of MOLOCH TROPICAL :
VISIT OUR ONLINE SHOP at http://shop.velvet-film.com (will be available Sept 1st)
Upcoming film festival screenings of MOLOCH TROPICAL include:
- Trinidad+Tobago Film Festival (September 22nd - October 5th, 2010)
- Festival International du Film Francophone de Namur (Belgium, October 1st - 8th, 2010)
- Oslo Film From the South (Norway, October 7th - 17th, 2010)
- Retrospective of Raoul Peck's films at the Centre Wallonie Bruxelles in Paris (France, October 11th - 16th, 2010)
Main film festivals selection:
Toronto International Film Festival 2009 - Special Presentation (Canada)
Festival Cinéma et Politique de Tours - Opening Film (France)
International film festival of Kerala (India)
Dubai International Film Festival 2009 - 6th DIFF 2009 | DUBAI, Emirates | Selection [Cinema of the World] | Middle East Premiere
MoMA - The Contenders, Best Films of 2010 (New York, USA)
Berlin International Film Festival 2010 - Berlinale Special (Germany)
CinemAfrica (Stockholm, Sweden)
Forum des Images - Retrospective Raoul Peck (Paris, France)
Miami International Film Festival (USA)
Milano Africano Film Festival (Italy)
Human Rights Watch Film Festival, London - Opening Film (UK)
Diversciné, Ottawa (Canada)
Istanbul International Film Festival (Turkey)
Tribeca International Film Festival 2010 (USA)
Belfast International Film Festival (Northern Ireland)
Saint-Barth' Film Festival
FIFFBA Bratislava Film Festival (Slovakia)
Washington International Film Festival (USA)
Etonnants Voyageurs, Saint-Malo (France)
Sydney International Film Festival 2010 - International competition (Australia)
CMAC Martinique (France)
Human Rights Watch Film Festival, New York (USA)
African Diaspora Film festival, New York and Chicago (USA)
Durban International Film Festival (South Africa)
Festival du Film Insulaire, Ile de Groix (France)
Festival du Film Francophone d'Angoulême - Official competition (France, August 25th - 28th, 2010)
Bozal, Brussels (Belgium)
2010 Signis prize of World Catholic Association for Communication (Milano film festival)
Regia: Raoul Peck
Sceneggiatura: Jean-René Lemoine, Raoul Peck
Fotografia: Eric Guichard
Montaggio: Martine Barraque
Suono: Eric Boisteau, François Groult
Musica: Alexei Agui
Interpreti: Zinedine Soualem, Sonia Rolland, Mireille Metellus, Nicole Dogue, Gessica Geneus
Durata: 105 min.
Versione originale: francese, creolo, inglese
Produzione: Velvet Film Production, Arte France
Velvet Film Production