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Hotel Rwanda

February 11, 2005

I just finished watching the movie Hotel Rwanda and it was quite an emotional punch. Although I knew a lot of the details about the Rwandian genocide, there is so much power in seeing the stories of real individuals effected by the worst acts of violence in the 20th century.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the background of the genocide. In 1994 Tutsi rebels were attempting to broker a peace treaty with the Hutu government of Rwanda when the Hutu President’s plane was shot down. This action provided the spark that sent the Interahamwe (Hutu Power Militia) into all out massacres of Tutsi citizens. Instead of intervening Western powers and the UN watched and did nothing. The foreign press, ex-patriates and internationals all withdrew allowing almost 1 million Rwandians to die.

The movie centers around the story of Paul Rusesabagina, the manager of of the luxury hotel in Kilgala, Rwanda. Although a Hutu, Paul’s wife and relatives are Tutsis. Played by Don Cheadle (who does an amazing job), Paul refuses to give the refuges who flock to his hotel up, bribing Rwandian generals and foreigners alike in order to save his family.

The movie had a similar note as Schindler’s List, serving to both raise awareness of the atrocities concerned and the enormous ability of humans to turn a blind eye to evil and cruelty. Yet it also brings moments of hope and the ability of one individual to stem the tide and bring life instead of death.

One aspect that I was particularly struck by was the complete lack of differences between Hutus and Tutsis. Physically no different and sharing much of the same culture, the “tribes” of Hutu and Tutsi did not exist until the Belgians colonized Rwanda and attempted to find differences between those that they chose to rule and those they chose to deny opportunity too.

Essentially I would say that Hotel Rwanda is required viewing by anyone and everyone. While the movie does contain violence, I feel that it contains a much more important factor and that is a story of truth which is rarely told about the Rwandian genocide.

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