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I don't know if a movie has the power to change the world, but if there was ever a candidate for one...

Welcome to the Hotel Rwanda fan site and links page. Please help us make this page as complete a resource as possible by sending in your links, news articles and stories. Help us spread the message of this very important film.

More to come!

-Willie


news
Hotel Rwanda released on DVD. Click here to purchase from amazon.

Hotel Rwanda: Bringing the True Story of an African Hero to Film by Terry George now available. Click here to purchase from amazon.

Hotel Rwanda review

by Tom McCurrie

"Hotel Rwanda" is the best movie of 2004.

Written by Keir Pearson and Terry George, and directed by George (Oscar-nominated scribe of "In the Name of the Father"), "Hotel Rwanda" depicts the brutal Rwandan Civil War of 1994, when the majority Hutus slaughtered the minority Tutsis and the world did nothing to stop it. One of the few who did do something was Paul Rusesabagina (a spectacular Don Cheadle), a Hutu who hid one thousand Tutsis (including his wife) and Hutu moderates at his own hotel, keeping the killers at bay through a combination of smooth talk, outright bribes and sheer bravado.

As this brief synopsis suggests, "Hotel Rwanda" can be dismissed as just another version of "Schindler's List." But despite "Schindler's" undeniable power, "Hotel Rwanda" surpasses it in two important ways. One is dramatic focus. "Schindler's" spends so much time with villain Amon Goeth that we tend to lose our emotional connection with Schindler himself, the actual hero of the piece. "Hotel Rwanda" on the other hand keeps Paul front and center the entire movie, keeping that emotional connection, and rooting interest, strong. Two, Paul faces more danger than Schindler, as he, his wife and children are constantly threatened with death for much of the film. There's nary a moment when Paul and his family don't have a gun or machete jammed in their face. In fact, most of "Hotel Rwanda" is about Paul jumping from the frying pan into the fire and back again to avoid his own extinction. And since life-and-death stakes are the highest stakes there are, they produce the most suspense -- and audience interest. Better yet, this suspense builds through a structure of rising tension. Whether it's his European "protection" leaving Rwanda, his running out of money and valuables (i.e. scotch) to bribe his enemies, or his turncoat assistant selling him out to the Hutu killers, Paul faces bigger and bigger obstacles as the film goes along, generating more interest the deeper we get into the movie. And that's a good thing when you want to keep an audience glued till the very end.

Now as a filmmaker, George is hardly subtle. Whether it's his writing, direction or use of music, he usually takes the most obvious approach to pricking our conscience, or tugging at our heartstrings (i.e. having children rescued as music swells, etc.). Though effective, this could easily send the picture into the realm of melodrama. Fortunately, Don Cheadle's understated performance serves as a wonderful counterbalance. Cheadle superbly limns a man whose job as hotel manager is to make order out of chaos, a buttoned-down personality who believes every problem can be solved with a pleasant smile and the right kind of wine. So when he finds it increasingly impossible to "manage" the genocide around him, his resulting emotional breakdown devastates the audience, since up till then he has kept his feelings so close to the vest. Paul's three-dimensionality also keeps the corniness at bay. He isn't a saintly figure, but a man both good and bad, both selfish and selfless (at first he doesn't want to help his neighbors because they're not family). He's a mixture of conflicting impulses, just like the rest of us, and this helps ground the film's often naked emotion in a recognizable reality.

Ironically, "Hotel Rwanda" may be too subtle in its depiction of the genocide itself (it's only rated PG-13). It's either portrayed in quick flashes or from a discreet distance. Does this lack of gore and blood trivialize the genocide by making it seem innocuous? Maybe, but by not showing the violence up close and personal, the film also leaves a lot to the viewer's imagination, making him even more terrified of what's around the next corner. After all, the best make-up job can never compete with the horrors of the imagination. And though graphic violence can be initially shocking, seeing it over and over again, even in a classic like "Schindler's List," has a dulling, monotonous effect that minimizes the impact of that violence over the long run. When the violence in "Hotel Rwanda" does occur, it's all the more shocking since we're not used to it, for the most part having been kept off-screen.

But what really makes "Hotel Rwanda" special isn't just the constant suspense, fine acting and heart-breaking emotion, but the importance of the subject matter itself. The Rwandan Civil War was practically ignored by the West, since, as one character in the film cynically puts it, saving the Tutsis wouldn't earn the politicians any votes. By documenting this criminally-neglected genocide for posterity, "Hotel Rwanda" performs a valuable service.

Better yet, in an era when most movies seem to be about nothing more than themselves, quickly fading from memory, "Hotel Rwanda" actually has something to say. In fact, it's blessed with two resonant themes: that one man can make a difference when it comes to saving lives, and more importantly, that we are all our brother's keeper. We ignore the latter to our peril. Certainly, if we don't go to someone's aid, we can't expect them to come to ours. For as Benjamin Franklin once said, "We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."

Click here for Tom's review at Hollywoood Lit Sales

Rwanda Songs: An Online Musical Presentation (thanks to Nicky for the link!)


links
"Hotel Rwanda" Portrays Hero Who Fought Genocide

CNN Review: 'Hotel Rwanda' amazing, gripping

Roger Ebert Review: Hotel Rwanda

Newsweek: Hotel Rwanda: A Hero Will Rise

NPR

Movie Web (with film clips)


Paul Rusesabagina

Film Force Interview: Don Cheadle and Paul Rusesabagina

BBC Radio: It's My Story - Defying Rwanda's Killers

Rwanda Information Exchange


General Romeo Dallaire

The General and the Genocide

Canadians: Romeo Dallaire

The solitary, tortured nobility of Romeo Dallaire

Wiki: Romeo Dallaire


books

Shake Hands With the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda

Conspiracy to Murder: The Rwanda Genocide and the International Community

Eyewitness to a Genocide: The United Nations and Rwanda

When Victims Become Killers : Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda

A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda's Genocide

Hotel Rwanda: The Soundtrack


what can I do to help?

Rwandahope.org

Rwanda Coffee

Rwanda Survivors Fund

Rwanda Partners


additional information
Rwanda film hits raw nerve for Clinton aide

Clinton Kept Hotel Rwanda Open

Ghosts of Rwanda