'Do not repeat or let it be said that Haiti is a country cursed in accumulating its disasters. It's wrong. The distressed state of Haitian society is to be explained by a long American blockade in the 19th century, then by an economic domination by Western powers which created the conditions for a dictatorship under which we have suffered a lot.' So said the Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck, as reported on the blog of French radio presenter Jean-Michel Aphatie. Peck was responding to American televangelist Pat Robertson's remarks two weeks ago that the deadly earthquake which struck the Caribbean country on January 12 was the consequence of the Haitians' 'pact with the devil' as they sought to free themselves from French colonial rule in the early 19th century. Peck is not alone in condemning Robertson's outrageous comments; civil rights activist Al Sharpton, among others, has also described such views as repulsive and un-Christian. But as reports about spreading disorder in his home country dominate the international press, Peck faces an uphill struggle to provide a proper understanding of the roots of his compatriots' plight beyond the shallow, populist view of regarding Haiti as a failed state collapsing on itself. Asger Leth's 2006 documentary Ghosts of Cite Soleil, a testosterone-dripping documentary about one of Port-au-Prince's worst slums, is one of the most high-profile films made about Haiti in recent years. And it's not necessarily a good thing, as it represents everything Peck is fighting against: lacking in-depth analysis about the social and political problems, the Danish director's film succeeded only in portraying Haiti as a hotbed of gang warfare. It ignores how the poverty and violence stem from the decades of dictatorship by Francois 'Papa Doc' Duvalier - propped up by Washington as a cold war bulwark against Cuba - who bled the country dry by siphoning public funds into his offshore bank accounts while terrorising the population with his notorious henchmen, the Tonton Macoutes. With its social infrastructure in tatters - a condition only made worse by the catastrophe two weeks ago - there's hardly a conventional film culture to speak of in Haiti. While digital video cameras have helped in empowering a younger generation of aspiring filmmakers - Film Salon reports how students at the island-state's only film school, Cine Institute, are out on the streets filming the situation after 'literally digging their cameras and equipment from the rubble' - Haitians could still only count on Peck, who served briefly as cultural minister in the mid-1990s, to represent and explain their plight to audiences around the world. Peck's 1993 film, The Man on the Shore, was among the first films to reflect on Haiti's recent history and how it shaped lives in the country for years to come. Set in the early 1960s, during the first years of Duvalier's tyrannical rule, the story revolves around an eight-year-old girl's life in the care of her grandmother after her parents flee the country for drawing the ire of a Tonton Macoutes associate. The film echoes Peck's own childhood: he was also eight when he fled with his parents to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he lived for the next decade before he furthered his studies in the US, France and Germany. Peck's latest film, Moloch Tropical, is about fictional Haitian priest-turned-despot Jean De Dieu, reflecting on his murderous deeds and pending downfall while holed up in a luxurious mountaintop castle. While boasting a similar setting to Alexander Sokurov's original Moloch (1999) - in which it's Adolf Hitler pondering over his last days in power - Peck's film is more scathing than surreal in its approach towards delusional, power-hungry egomaniacs: look no further, for example, than the scene in which De Dieu plucks a tortured journalist from his dungeons, dresses him up in immaculate attire and then presents him to invited members of the press at dinner, so as to provide some window-dressing for his rule. For a more realist and equally explicit critique of the source of Haiti's social malaise, there is Laurent Cantet's Heading South: the film explores Western exploitation of Haiti in the form of sex tourism, as white women pay for the company of local men in beach resorts in the 1970s. When trouble brews for their escorts, they retreat into their bungalows while knowing well their young friends' fate in the hands of the Tonton Macoutes. It's a treatise about how neo-colonialism doesn't just harm the oppressed, but also corrupts the colonisers themselves: the French director's film is a devastating critique of economic imperialism, and offers a chronicle of a foretold future.