Lumumba (film)

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Directed byRaoul Peck
Produced byJacques Bidou
Raoul Peck
Written byPascal Bonitzer
Dan Edelstein
Raoul Peck
StarringEriq Ebouaney
Music byJean-Claude Petit
CinematographyBernard Lutic
Edited byJacques Comets
Release date
  • 14 May 2000 (2000-05-14) (Cannes)
Running time
115 minutes

Lumumba is a biographical film of Patrice Lumumba directed in 2000 by Raoul Peck. It is set in the months before and after Congo-Léopoldville achieved independence from Belgium in June 1960. Raoul Peck's film is a coproduction of France, Belgium, Germany, and Haiti. Political unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the time of filming caused the film to be shot in Zimbabwe and Beira, Mozambique.


The plot is based on the final months of Lumumba (played by Eriq Ebouaney), the first Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo, whose tenure in office lasted two months, until he was driven from office. Joseph Kasa-Vubu (Maka Kotto) is sworn in as the first President of the country, alongside Lumumba as Prime Minister. Together, they attempt to prevent the Congo succumbing to secession and anarchy. The film concludes with Joseph Mobutu (Alex Descas) seizing power.


Release and reception[edit]

The film premiered at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival on 14 May 2000, and it was shown at various film festivals as well as having commercial releases in Belgium, France, Switzerland, the United States and Canada. The film grossed $684,000 in the US.[1] It also aired on HBO.[2]

Reviewing the film in The Guardian, Alex Tunzelmann noted Peck's "commendable effort to get as close to the truth as possible, incorporating many details from historical investigator Ludo de Witte's The Assassination of Lumumba.[3] Tunzelmann suggested the film might move too quickly through the Congo and Lumumba's history for viewers not already familiar with it to keep up, but said the "last part of the film, from Lumumba's falling out with Mobutu to his death, is gripping to watch, building to a superb last scene intercutting Lumumba's fate with Mobutu's attempt to rewrite history." Writing for The New York Times, Elvis Mitchell read the film's pace as "refus[ing] to lay out Lumumba's life in traditional, corny terms by presenting a lengthy and unwieldy history lesson and then groveling for audience sympathy. Instead Lumumba vaults through his radicalization and the track that led this former civil servant and beer salesman to leave his angry stamp on the world."[4]

Disputed scene[edit]

The film generated some controversy in 2002, when Frank Carlucci, a former American government official and protege of Donald Rumsfeld, persuaded HBO to delete a reference to him during the airing of the film. The scene in question involves a group of Belgian and Congolese officials deciding whether to kill Lumumba. Carlucci is asked for input, and he mumbles that the US government does not involve itself in the internal affairs of other countries. At the time, Carlucci was the second secretary of the US Embassy in Congo. He denies playing any role in the death of Lumumba: "The scene is tendentious, false, libelous; it never happened and it is a cheap shot."[citation needed]

According to one source, the scene was deleted from the version of the film that aired on HBO.[5] Another source says that the scene was not deleted, but the word "Carlucci" was bleeped in the dialogue, with the name masked in the credits.[6] The scene remains on the DVD version of the film.


  1. ^ Lumumba (2000) - Box office / business
  2. ^ HBO Films
  3. ^ Tunzelmann, Alex von (14 June 2012). "Lumumba fights its corner as a corrective to imperialism". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  4. ^ Mitchell, Elvis (27 June 2001). "FILM REVIEW; An African Leader's Brief Blaze of Glory". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  5. ^ Shorrock, Tim (14 March 2002). "Company Man". The Nation. Retrieved 26 August 2006.
  6. ^ Laurier, Joanne (15 March 2002). ""Carlucci" bleeped from HBO version of Lumumba". World Socialist Web Site. Retrieved 26 August 2006.

External links[edit]