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Hotel RwandaHotel Rwanda

Starring: Don Cheadle, Sophie Okoneda, Nick Nolte, Antonio David Lyons, Desmond Dube and Joaquin Phoenix
Directed by: Terry George
Terry George Interview

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Bluntly speaking? Hotel Rwanda is one helluva film; strong, blunt, moving, unsettling and eye-opening. Don Cheadle, an acting treasure, turns in an electric powerhouse performance and writer director Terry George weaves an accurate, telling, story the world should listen to.

Story goes… Rwanda in 1994 is in a terrible state of affairs. Ancient bigotries are wielding their heads and coming to a frightening head.

Four-star hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle) is hoping this time it is as the last times - all talk and no action.

He is very wrong. He is a Hutu. The conflict is with the Tutsi. He does not see the difference between the people. But, an under current of interahamwe militia, Hutu militia, are being organized, and brainwashed, that the Tutsi are the cause of all their ills.

This message is being broadcast, literally, by one radio station that feeds the hate propaganda throughout the country. The unimaginable happens - Tutsi, once friends and neighbors, are drawn up and slaughtered by barely armed Hutus.

Paul is directly in the middle of the situation. His own wife is Tutsi. He quickly realizes the situation is grave. Paul uses his skills as a "negotiator" of the finer things to the elite, to persuade the corrupt military leaders into sparing a few of his friends.

But, this is only his beginning. As he comes to realize the country has been abandoned by those stationed there to help; like the Red Cross and the U.N.. Paul takes over "his" hotel and sets up a makeshift refugee camp. He fills the rooms with as many as he can, and barters for food, and liquor stored in the hotel for their safety.

The conflict lasts over 100 days. And in the end Paul manages to save over 1200 Rwandans by pure will to live and his verbal skills.

Based on the actual accounts (ninety percent), and assisted by the real Paul Ruesabagina, writer director Terry George manages to finally tell the world of the atrocities these people faced. It was genocide. Hotel Rwanda is hard to watch. You will be worn to tears. But it is powerful, meaningful film making. This should be shown in schools around the world, along with Schindler's List, to teach people the affect of hate.

George uses the voice of the Rwandan radio station as an ever-lurking protagonist - an evil, commanding, character. Spewing words of hate from the darkness, behind a riot, during a march, the DJ is never seen but directly affecting the crescendoing atrocities, and one gets the feeling, the direct cause of the conflict. And the "station" is as scary as any serial killer, or demon, in any film - if not more so.

Don Cheadle, as Paul, gives you a glimpse into a true hero's character, and grips your being with his portrayal. There aren't too many roles out there like this. With this much human depth. He honored the man, and his incredible story of will, passion and remarkable ability during an unfathomable event. Among the rest of an impeccable cast of performers, you'll see Joaquin Phoenix and Nick Nolte lending a hand in this important film.

Snack recommendation: Curried beef and cola, perhaps with a side of valium.


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