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Hotel Rwanda

Hotel Rwanda
Directed by Terry George
Starring Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, Nick Nolte, Joaquin Phoenix
M (2005)
RRP $39.95

Set in 1994 as the Hutu militia massacred almost 1 million people in 100 days, Hotel Rwanda is the powerful, true story of one man’s efforts to protect over 1000 people, including his wife and children, from certain death.

As manager of the 5-star Belgian owned Hotel Mille Collines in Kigali (Rwanda’s capital), Paul Rusesabagina (Cheadle) used his master negotiating power, bribery and high profile contacts to fend off the attacking militia as the hotel filled with refugees.

Despite its violent subject matter, Hotel Rwanda focuses on the story of Paul and his wife Tatiana rather than showing the horrific nature of the Rwandan conflict. It is implied rather than shown in detail.

What struck me most about this film is that it tells a story that went largely untold in Western media. This film raises so many questions. How could the international media not take notice? How could this be happening today in other countries (namely the Congo and Sudan) and again the Western media pass it off as ‘tribal warfare’. How could the world’s largest governments know genocide was happening (even if they failed to admit it) and not send troops or offer foreign aid? How could UN peacekeepers obey orders not to shoot and simply be bystanders to the massacre around them?

Nock Nolte’s character a UN Colonel, summed up the UN stance when he said; “We are here as peacekeepers, not peace makers.”

Extra features include selected scenes with commentary from Don Cheadle and Paul Rusesabagina and a making of documentary. Both are moving and insightful.

Nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Screenplay, Hotel Rwanda is the kind of film that can open your eyes.