Back in December of 2016, roughly a month after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, I’d spoken with director Raoul Peck about his 2016 documentary I Am Not Your Negro, which took an unfinished manuscript from James Baldwin and used Baldwin’s profound prose to examine the history of racism in America. At the time, I’d said that it may be the most important movie of that year. Four years removed, and given the many terrible turns this country took during those four years, the Oscar-nominated/BAFTA-winning feature is without a doubt the most important film to drop during Trump’s term. How does one follow that up? To hear Peck tell it, it wasn’t easy.
“I had to find the foundation of it all,” Peck explains in the statement of intent for his four-part “hybrid docuseries” for HBO, Exterminate All the Brutes, which premieres on HBO (and HBO Max) on Wednesday, April 7 at 9 PM ET with two back-to-back episodes, with HBO airing the final two episodes on the next night (Thursday, April 8). In this series, Peck’s vision was influenced by three pieces of literature: Sven Lindqvist’s Exterminate All the Brutes, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, and Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s Silencing the Past. With a blend of documentary footage, material from the archives, animation, and scenes scripted by Peck himself, the acclaimed director examines the truth behind the Native American genocide and American slavery, presenting the true history of America, warts (wounds) and all.
“It creates a new narrative,” Peck explains in his statement, “that can carry the nuanced and emotional levels of the subject mater and crack the core story from the inside out. As writers, creators, filmmakers, we have no choice than to reflect on our societies, and provide knowledge and challenges in addition to mere entertainment. And as artists, we need to break the limits of our art.”
Be sure to check out Raoul Peck’s Exterminate All the Brutes when hits HBO and HBO Max on Wednesday, April 7.