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Director Peck's new film takes on the demise of Haiti's class system

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Haiti's most respected filmmaker began production on a new film in Haiti this week, making perhaps the first feature to dramatize how people faced the topsy-turvy days and weeks after the 2010 earthquake.

France-based Raoul Peck's latest film, “Murder in Pacot,” uses a traditional stranger-comes-to-town plot line to examine how the quake upended Haiti's strongly divided class system.

The movie focuses on a well-to-do family whose house is almost completely destroyed. They rent out the remaining room to recoup money and move themselves into the servants' quarters. The renter is a foreign aid worker who comes to Haiti with good intentions and meets an impressionable teenage girl from the neighborhood.

As the title implies, someone dies.

“It's a clash of bubbles, different bubbles (that) live side-by-side, who never really connect or communicate,” Peck said in an interview on the set on Friday.

Peck, whose past films include “The Man by the Shore” about dictatorship-era Haiti, the Rwanda genocide drama “Sometimes in April” and “Lumumba: Death of a Prophet,” said he came up with the idea for the film while shooting “Fatal Assistance,” a documentary that takes a harsh look at Haiti's reconstruction effort.

Images of the grim settlements occupied by Haiti's poorest were pervasive after the disaster. But Peck wanted to dramatize the quake's devastation in other ways. He was struck by how the homes of Haiti's moneyed classes had collapsed.

“Visually it was incredible — this image of wealth, totally crumbled,” said Peck, a former Haitian culture minister and now president of a prestigious French film school. “That story didn't interest many people, because ... you could do better images in the slums, in the camps, in downtown Port-au-Prince.”

“Murder in Pacot” stars French actors Alex Descas and Thibault Vincon, Nigerian-German singer-songwriter Ayo and Haitian actress Lovely Kermonde Fifi. Haitian novelist and poet Lyonel Trouillot helped write the script.

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