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Raoul Peck Sets ‘The Hands That Held The Knives’ As Next Documentary

Raoul Peck, the filmmaker behind Academy Award-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro, is in production on his next feature doc — an investigation into the 2021 assassination of Haitian president Jovenel Moise, tentatively titled, The Hands That Held the Knives.

Over two years in the making, with unprecedented access to many of those involved, and including secret filming in Haiti’s prisons and an unexpected encounter with a fugitive who was an eyewitness to the murder, Peck’s film taking him back to his home country will be a documentary thriller, in the tradition of Graham Greene or John Le Carré.

His investigation takes him deep into the politics of Haiti, its relationship with the United States, and the corrupt business empires and criminal organizations — dealing drugs and contraband throughout the Caribbean, using weapons trafficked from the U.S. — which have now rendered the country a hellscape for its citizens. The film will take us right up to the present moment, as ruthless gangs backed by oligarchs with well-paid lobbyists in Washington, D.C. now control 80% of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

“I am eager to tell my country’s real story beyond the usual exotic clichés and preposterous clickbait,” said Peck in a statement on the new project. “I want to reveal for once, without holding back, the core stories and real reasons for Haiti’s tragic situation.”

Added Academy Award winner Alex Gibney, who is producing for Jigsaw, “This is a story that only Raoul Peck can tell. A former Minister of Culture in Haiti, Raoul has been in the belly of the beast of Haiti’s politics and is the only filmmaker alive with the knowledge of the country and the extraordinary skill as a filmmaker to be able to tell this tale, which has global implications, as governments fall, one by one, to the ruthless pursuit of money and power.”

Peck is producing the doc under his Velvet Films banner alongside Jigsaw Productions, with Imagine Documentaries, Anonymous Content, and Double Agent, who are also financing the project. Producers on the project include Gibney for Jigsaw; Blair Foster, Anonymous Content’s Nick Shumaker, and Dana O’Keefe on behalf of Double Agent. Exec producers include Sara Bernstein on behalf of Imagine, and Anonymous Content’s David Levine and Jessica Grimshaw, as well as Teddy Schwarzman, Yariv Milchan, and Michael Heimler. AC Independent, Double Agent, and Range Media Partners will rep worldwide sales rights. 

Premiering at the 2016 Toronto Film Festival, where it won the coveted People’s Choice Award, Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro delves into the life and work of African American writer and social critic James Baldwin. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the film explores Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, Remember This House — which reflects on the lives and assassinations of his close friends, civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. — as a means of exploring the history of racism and social injustice in the U.S. Following its release by Magnolia Pictures and Amazon, the film went on to win a BAFTA and a César Award, among other accolades, while securing an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature.

Also behind films like Silver Dollar Road and the HBO miniseries Exterminate All the Brutes, Peck’s films up next for release are the documentaries Orwell and Ernest Cole: Lost and Found. The filmmaker is represented by Range Media Partners and Del Shaw Moonves.

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