Moloch Tropical – Haiti at the Berlinale

As so often in history it needs a natural catastrophe to draw public attention to a human catastrophe already going on for many years. Was it really necessary that a ravaging earthquake for the first editorial articles on Haiti in the “Western” press in years and for bringing the first movie from Haiti to the Berlinale Filmfestival in more than a decade? (Well, there was one Italian movie about Haiti in the “culinary cinema” section (Eat, Drink, See Movies) last year – pretty sarcastic when it comes to a country where mud cakes became a staple diet for many already before the earthquake hit…)

Whatever, at least under the prevailing circumstances the organizers of the Berlinale had the great idea to add the movie Moloch Tropical to the program of this year’s festival and to support the UNICEF mission for Haiti. The movie is directed by Haitian-born Raoul Peck who grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, studied in the US, France and German and became well known for his enthralling political films situated in Africa such as Lumumba and Sometimes in April.

With Moloch Tropical he returns to Haiti and shows a president in his fortress up on the hills who finds his country in turmoil, with riots spreading and his power and control vanishing. Peck who served as Minister of Culture in the Haitian government himself in 1996/97 said about the movie: “I wanted to re-examine, from a Shakespearian perspective, the tragic and foolish nonsense of the past sixty years of upheaval. Nowhere else but in Haiti has reality generated so much confusion and so many contradictions.”