By NAN ED EDITOR
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Feb. 24, 2017: Here are the top stories making news on the Caribbean entertainment scene for the week-ending Feb. 24, 2017.
Caribbean Filmmaker Up For Oscar
Caribbean nationals tuning into the 89th Academy Awards this Sunday should be rooting for one of the region’s stellar sons to win Best Documentary Feature. Caribbean-born filmmaker Raoul Peck’s documentary film ‘I Am Not Your Negro,’ has been nominated in the category. Here are 10 things you should know about Peck.
1: Peck was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and at the age of eight, he and his family were forced to leave their homeland to flee the dictatorship of François Duvalier.
2: Peck and his two younger brothers joined his father, Hebert B. Peck, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where he was working as an agronomist for the United Nations FAO and UNESCO. His mother, Giselle, would serve as aide and secretary to mayors of Kinshasa for many years.
3: The Peck family ended up residing in the DRC for 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.
4: Peck was once a New York City taxi driver and spent one year in this post.
5: Peck was also a journalist and photographer. He worked as both from 1980–85 before earning a film degree (1988) from the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (DFFB) in West Berlin.
6: Peck created the film production company Velvet Film in Germany in 1986. He initially developed short experimental works and socio-political documentaries, before moving on to feature films. His feature L’Homme sur les quais (1993; The Man by the Shore,) 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. His other films include: De Cuba Traigo Un Cantar (short; 1982); Exzerpt (short; 1983); Leugt (short; 1983); The Minister of the Interior is on our Side (short; 1984); Merry Christmas Deutschland (short; 1984); Haitian Corner (1987–88); Lumumba: La mort du prophète (Lumumba: Death of a Prophet, 1992); Haiti – Le silence des chiens (Haiti – Silence of the Dogs, 1994); Desounen: Dialogue with Death (1994); Chère Catherine (1997); Corps plongés (It’s Not About Love, 1998); Lumumba (2000); Profit & Nothing But! Or Impolite Thoughts on the Class Struggle (2001); Sometimes in April (2005); L’Affaire Villemin (2006), TV series; Moloch Tropical (2009); Assistance mortelle (documentary, 2013) and Murder in Pacot (2014).
7: 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. His other awards includes: Human Rights Watch’s Nestor Almendros Prize (1994); Sony Special Prize, Locarno Festival (for Chère Catherine, 1997); Human Rights Watch’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2001); Procirep Prize, Festival du Réel (for Lumumba—Death of a Prophet, 2002); Best Documentary, Montreal Film Festival (for Lumumba—Death of a Prophet, 2002); Jury member, Berlin International Film Festival (2002); Human Rights Watch’s Irene Diamond Lifetime Achievement Award (2003); Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival Best Documentary Prize for Fatal Assistance (2013).
8: In 2016, Peck’s ‘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. Shortly after, Magnolia Pictures and Amazon Studios acquired distribution rights to the film. It was released in the US for an Oscar-qualifying theatrical run on December 9, 2016, before re-opening on February 3, 2017.
9: Peck served as Minister of Culture in the Haitian government of Prime Minister Rosny Smarth from 1996–97. He detailed his experiences in this position in a book, Monsieur le Ministre… jusqu’au bout de la patience.
10: Peck divides his time between Voorhees Township, New Jersey, USA; Paris, France; and Port-à-Piment, Haiti. His next film, The Young Karl Marx, is set to be released next year. Peck is also president of La Fémis, the French state film school.
Rihanna’s Latest Award
Bajan-born super star Rihanna has added yet another award to her growing list. RiRi has been named Harvard University’s 2017 Humanitarian of the Year. She’ll accept the honor on site at the university’s campus next Tuesday. The award recognizes Rihanna’s many humanitarian projects, such as her building a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment facility in Barbados, and creating a scholarship program for students attending U.S. colleges from Caribbean countries. Past honorees include Ban Ki-moon, Malala Yousafzai, and actor James Earl Jones.
Haitian American Singer Teams With Trini Rapper
Haitian American singer Jason Derulo has unleashed his star-studded single “Swalla” featuring Trinidad-born rapper Nicki Minaj and American rapper Ty Dolla $ign.
The Caribbean-driven record finds Derulo and Ty Dolla $ign exchanging flavorful verses while the track is punctuated by Minaj.