Saturday, January 8, 2005


True story

The majority of those living in Rwanda are Hutus. The Tutsis, although a minority, are very similar to the Hutus: they speak the same language, inhabit the same areas and follow the same traditions. But the Belgian colonists who arrived in 1916, saw the two groups as distinct entities, and even produced identity cards classifying people according to their ethnicity. The Belgians considered the Tutsis as superior to the Hutus. Not surprisingly, the Tutsis welcomed this idea, and for the next 20 years they enjoyed better jobs and educational opportunities than their neighbours. When Belgium relinquished power and granted Rwanda independence in 1962, the Hutus took their place.
The Tutsi formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) with the aim of overthrowing president, Juvenal Habyarimana. When Habyarimana's plane was shot down at the beginning of April 1994, the presidential guard immediately initiated a campaign of retribution. Leaders of the political opposition were murdered, and almost immediately, the slaughter of Tutsis began.
On the ground at least, the Rwandans were largely left alone by the international community. UN troops withdrew after the murder of 10 soldiers. In July, the RPF captured the capital city Kigali. The government collapsed and the RPF declared a ceasefire.

Don Cheadle: Paul Rusesabagina, manager of a Belgian-owned four-star hotel
Sophie Okonedo: Paul’s wife Tatiana
Nick Nolte: Colonel Oliver, senior officer of the U.N. peacekeeper Canadian contingent

Sometimes one person can make a big difference in the lives of many. Such was the case with Paul: his initial concern was just for the safety of his family, but when presented the opportunity to help others, he readily did so. But not everybody did and that is the tragedy the survivors have to live with. Excellent performances make this a riveting story, but obviously it is not for everyone.

for graphic violence, disturbing images

The vans have the wrong spelling of the hotel name, missing the “s” in Milles Collines.

When the Hotel Manager hands the Rwanda Army General a bottle of VAT 69 Blended Scotch Whisky, without hesitation he unscrews the bottle. Listen carefully and you can hear the distinctive “fizz” sound when a bottle of soda is opened. The nitpick is there should be no fizz sound because Scotch Whisky is not a carbonated beverage.

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