IN 2016, RAOUL PECK’S documentary I Am Not Your Negro used the life and work of James Baldwin to explore the underlying truths of racism in U.S. society. Peck said that after making that film, “Baldwin had firebombed every known field of bigotry I knew and annihilated any attempt at deniability of the racist monster that lurks in corners of our societies.”
Processing that experience led Peck to his new, ambitious HBO documentary series Exterminate All the Brutes. In it, Peck expands on the themes of ignorance and resistance in our modern-day understanding of racism and on how our flawed historical understanding feeds those attitudes. Exterminate All the Brutes is also an essay film, with Peck, a Haitian immigrant, reflecting on his identity as a Black man who has lived in a variety of cultures and how that’s influenced his own art.
The series weaves voiceover and scripted dramatic scenes with information from groundbreaking works on European colonialism, Indigenous peoples, and racism—including Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous People’s History of the United States, Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s Silencing the Past, and Sven Lindqvist’s Exterminate All the Brutes.
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