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Hotel Rwanda, 2004

I was only fourteen when this was happening and my memory of the media coverage is certainly not exact, but it seems like Hotel Rwanda tells us an important story of an individual trying to make a difference in the face of hatred and genocide. One decade after the massive atrocity committed in Rwanda of the Hutus against the Tutsis, Don Cheadle portrays Paul Rusesabagina, the manager of a glamorous luxury hotel which he used to shelter thousands of Tutsis against the Hutu rebels including his wife and family. Rusesabagina negotiated, compromised, lied, bried, cajoled, threatened, and even pitied Hutu leaders, the UN, the owners of his hotel in Belgium, into taking action to help stop the massacre that was on-going.

Adapted into a screenplay by Terry George and Keir Pearson and directed by Terry George Hotel Rwanda is an exercise in extremes. The beauty and tranquility as provided for by Rusesabagina in his Belgian-owned hotel compared with the brutal massacre of Tutsi by hand with machetes by the militant Hutus. It is an effective, chilling, and meaningful story to tell and George does a fantastic job of doing just that.

Cheadle’s portrayal of Rusesabagina is realistic and touching; one wonders how Cheadle has not been cast into more prominent and serious roles before this one with his quite evident skill. Hotel Rwanda is an important movie that is useful both in its entertainment value as a story to be told to others, and also as a reminder of a lesson one hopes many have learned in the wake of a lack of response by most Western powers to genocide elsewhere in the world.