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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Hotel Rwanda': A Heartrending Depiction of Paul Rusesabagina's Humanitarian Efforts in Rwanda

Movie poster for Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Hotel Rwanda (2004) is a searing and heartrending depiction of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, starring Don Cheadle as Paul Rusesabagina, manager of the Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali, capital city of Rwanda. The storyline follows the efforts of Rusesabagina and his wife Tatiana (Sophie Okonedo) to shelter and safeguard over 1,200 Hutu and Tutsi refugees desperately fleeing the Interahamwe Paramilitary Militia.

The backdrop to the Rusesabaginas' story is the ongoing ethnopolitical struggle between Rwanda's Hutu-controlled government and the Tutsi minority, inflamed by the three-year Rwandan Civil War. Following the assassination of Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, Hutu extremists initiated a horrific cleansing of Tutsi civilians throughout the country—brutally murdering thousands in villages and towns over a 100-day period. When UN peacekeeping forces, led by Colonel Oliver (Nick Nolte), are forbidden from intervening and foreign nationals are evacuated, Paul hastily endeavors to ensconce Tutsi family members, neighbors and orphans within the 4-star hotel—much to the chagrin of Rwandan Army general Augustin Bizimungu (Fana Mokoena).

Co-written and directed by Irish filmmaker Terry George (Some Mother's Son, Reservation Road), Hotel Rwanda is an urgent depiction of historical conflict and fractional salvation. Cheadle is an absolute revelation as the aggrieved Rusesabagina, a man of prominence who discovers his true humanitarianism under the most dire of circumstances. Kudos to George and producer A. Kitman Ho for delivering Rusesabagina's story to the screen—purposely unveiling the true horrors of the Rwandan Genocide to the world stage as an urgent call-to-action in the face of unmitigated atrocity.


Watch the trailer:


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