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Hotel Rwanda

Hotel Rwanda is a 2004 drama film directed by Terry George. It is a Canada/United Kingdom/Italy/South Africa co-production, and the first-ever co-production between the rival independent film studios Lions Gate Films and United Artists. more...

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Based on a true event, the movie is about Paul Rusesabagina (Cheadle), a Hutu who managed the four-star Sabena-owned Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali, Rwanda. When the 1994 Rwandan Genocide broke out, he thought of only saving his immediate family but as he saw what was happening he opened the hotel to Tutsis and Hutu refugees. He used all the favours he had built up as manager of the hotel and saved the lives of 1,268 refugees, in a fashion similar to Oskar Schindler as portrayed in Schindler's List (1993). The movie ends with Rusesabagina's family and the hotel evacuees crossing the Tutsi rebel line to a refugee camp and from there to Tanzania. Rusesabagina takes orphan children with him on an already full bus. The text suggests some of the generals were punished for their crimes. A happy ending is unusual for a story set against the backdrop of genocide leaving some critics of the film worried that the auspicious heroism of the story fails to impress the horror of the events. However the film's director Terry George defends the film's ending, particularly the safe evacuation of the hotel's occupants and the rescue of Paul's two nieces, as being the events as they happened and therefore impossible to avoid.

Main cast

  • Don Cheadle as Paul Rusesabagina
  • Sophie Okonedo as Tatsiana Rusesabagina
  • Nick Nolte as Colonel Oliver
  • Fana Mokoena as General Augustin Bizimungu
  • Joaquin Phoenix as Jack
  • Jean Reno as Sabena Airlines President, Mr. Tillens (uncredited)


  • Audience Award, Best Feature, 2004 AFI Festival
  • AGF People's Choice Award (Terry George), Toronto International Film Festival
  • 2005 Nominee for three Academy Awards: Actor in a Leading Role — Don Cheadle, Actress in a Supporting Role — Sophie Okonedo, Writing (Original Screenplay)
  • 2005 Nominee for three Golden Globe Awards: Actor in a Leading Role-Drama — Don Cheadle, Best Original Song — A Million Voices by Wyclef Jean, and Best Picture-Drama


  • Some have complained that the film does not give Canadian Lt-Gen. Roméo Dallaire due credit for his role in trying to stop the violence. He was the Force Commander of UNAMIR, the ill-fated United Nations peacekeeping force sent to Rwanda during the massacre. Instead, he is depicted in a fictionalized form, although in a positive light, as Col. Oliver (played by Nick Nolte).
  • Others have argued, however, that although the film can be viewed as the hollywoodisation of a human tragedy (because it has a beginning, a middle, and a heroic end), it did bring a terrible tragedy to the eyes of the world.


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