This year is definitely Lumumba's year. While the Belgian parliament continues its investigation into his assassination in 1961, a movie paying tribute to him is already making waves in Belgium and beyond.
For the Haitian director and co-producer, Raoul Peck, "it is just a coincidence" that the film is out at the same time as the Belgian investigation into Lumumba's murder. "I have been working for 10 years on the subject; in fact the script was ready five years ago," says Peck whose first documentary on Lumumba's assassination was released in 1992.
However, with this new fictional film (110 minutes long, which cost $4m to produce), Peck is targeting a much wider audience. The film came our in Belgium in September and will be shown in France, Canada and seven African countries, including Senegal and Burkina Faso.
It was shot in Belgium, Mozambique and Zimbabwe because no insurance company was prepared to cover the risks of filming in DRCongo (Lumumba's country) on account of the ongoing civil war there.
Peck's real ambition is to provide the anticolonial version of Lumumba's sacrifice. "There are enough films about us, the black people, which don't give us the floor!", he says. "It was time, therefore, that someone came up with a product that dealt with such an African historical thriller from a black and African perspective."
Peck, however, admits that there is no scoop to be found in his film. The truth about the American and Belgian attempts to kill Lumumba has been known since 1961, in a UN report which established the culpabilities, he says. "My film is about making this truth official."
Peck's militant approach reminds one of Oliver Stone in JFK, the film on President Kennedy's assassination. Some may deplore the fact that Peck shows an idealised view of Lumumba in some scenes where, for instance, he blames the dreaded (then)...