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Hotel Rwanda

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Terry George
Produced by Terry George
Written by Keir Pearson
Terry George
Starring Don Cheadle
Sophie Okonedo
Joaquin Phoenix
Nick Nolte
Jean Reno
Music by Afro Celt Sound System
Rupert Gregson-Williams
Andrea Guerra
Cinematography Robert Fraisse
Editing by Naomi Geraghty
Distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment
United Artists
Release date(s) December 22, 2004
Running time 121 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
South Africa
Language English
Budget $17,500,000
Gross revenue $33,882,243

Hotel Rwanda is a 2004 historical drama film about the hotelier Paul Rusesabagina (played by Don Cheadle) during the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. The film, which has been called an African Schindler's List,[1] documents Rusesabagina's acts to save the lives of his family and more than a thousand other refugees, by granting them shelter in the besieged Hôtel des Mille Collines. Directed by Terry George, the film was co-produced by the American, British, Italian, and South African companies, with filming done on location in Johannesburg, South Africa and Kigali, Rwanda.[2] As an independent film, it had an initial limited release in theaters, but was nominated for multiple awards, including Academy Award nominations for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Screenplay. As of 2010, it continues to be one of the most-rented films on services such as Netflix,[3] and is listed by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 most inspirational movies of all time.[4]


Historical context

The film is set in 1994, during the Rwandan Genocide in which an estimated 800,000 people, mainly Tutsi, were killed by the Hutu extremists.[5] Paul Rusesabagina was consulted during the writing of the film.


Tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi peoples lead to a war, in a country where corruption and bribes are routine. Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), the manager of the Sabena Hôtel des Mille Collines, is Hutu but his wife, Tatiana (Sophie Okonedo), is Tutsi. His marriage is a source of friction with Hutu extremists, most prominently Georges Rutaganda, a friendly supplier to the hotel who also is the local leader of Interahamwe, a brutal anti-Tutsi militia.

As the political situation in the country worsens, Paul and his family observe neighbors being killed. Paul curries favor with people of influence, bribing them with money and alcohol, seeking to maintain sufficient influence to keep his family safe. When civil war erupts and a Rwandan Army officer threatens Paul and his neighbors, Paul barely negotiates their safety, and brings everyone to the hotel. More refugees come to the hotel from the overburdened United Nations camp, the Red Cross, and orphanages. Paul must divert the Hutu soldiers, care for the refugees, be a source of strength to his family, and maintain the appearance of a functioning high-class hotel, as the situation becomes more and more violent, and mobs in the streets hover outside the gates.

The UN Peacekeeping forces, led by Canadian Colonel Oliver (Nick Nolte), are unable to take assertive action against the Interahamwe since they are forbidden to intervene in the genocide. The foreign nationals are evacuated, but the Rwandans are left behind. When the UN forces attempt to evacuate a group of refugees, including Paul's family, they are ambushed and must turn back. In a last-ditch effort to save the refugees, Paul speaks to the Rwandan Army General, Augustin Bizimungu (Fana Mokoena) and when the bribes no longer work, he blackmails him with threats of being tried as a war criminal. The family and the hotel refugees finally leave the besieged hotel in a UN convoy, and they travel through retreating masses of refugees and militia to reach safety behind Tutsi rebel lines.



The film opened in limited release. It has grossed $33 million to date, making it a success for an independent film. According to the 3 December 2006 edition of 60 Minutes, Hotel Rwanda was the fifth most-rented movie on Netflix at the time. It is currently the 20th most-rented movie on Netflix.[3]


The film has received a great deal of critical acclaim, with a 92% 'fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 178 reviews.[6] In the United States, the film was originally rated R, but is one of the few films that appealed the rating and won. It was re-rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief strong language. Hotel Rwanda was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Don Cheadle, Best Supporting Actress for Sophie Okonedo, and Best Original Screenplay for Keir Pearson and Terry George.

The film is also the subject of criticism from various groups, as it is seen that its successful box office return was not reflected in donations to survival charities such as the Survivors Fund (SURF):

For too long survivors have lived with broken promises, and the producers of Hotel Rwanda should learn from this lesson and fulfil their commitment to give back to the survivors profits made from the film. This is a sad and regretful case of people profiting from the tragedy of others.”
— Mary Kayitesi Blewitt, Director of SURF

The American Film Institute ranked Hotel Rwanda as #90 on its list of the 100 most inspirational movies of all time.[4] Film critic Richard Roeper said that it was one of the most inspirational films that he had ever seen and named the film the best of 2004.[7] Roger Ebert gave the film four stars[8] and ranked Hotel Rwanda as the ninth best movie of 2004.[7] Ebert's website provides a summary of additional reviews of the film.[9]

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards
Category Performer Result
Best Actor Don Cheadle Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Sophie Okonedo Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Terry George & Keir Pearson Nominated
Category Performer Result
Best Original Screenplay Terry George & Keir Pearson Nominated
Black Reel Awards
Category Performer Result
Best Actor in a Drama Don Cheadle Nominated
Best Actress in a Drama Sophie Okonedo Winner
Broadcast Film Critics Association
Category Performer Result
Best Actor in a Drama Don Cheadle Nominated
Best Picture N/A Nominated
Producers Guild of America
Category Performer Result
Stanley Kramer Award Winner

See also


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Hotel Rwanda is a 2004 film about a Hutu who is the manager of a hotel in Kigali, Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. While striving to protect his family and hundreds of Tutsi refugees from the Hutu mass-murderers, he faces an additional struggle to overcome international indifference to the country's plight.

Directed by Terry George. Written by Terry George and Keir Pearson.
When the world closed its eyes, he opened his arms.


Paul Rusesabagina

  • The United Nations are here now. The world press are watching. The peace has been signed. Let this process work.
  • Tatiana, all day I work to please this officer, diplomat, or some other guests to store up favors so if there is a time we need help I have powerful people I can call upon.
  • These days, I have not time for rallies or politics.
  • There will be no rescue, no intervention force. We can only save ourselves. Many of you know influential people abroad, you must call these people. You must tell them what will happen to us... say goodbye. But when you say goodbye, say it as though you are reaching through the phone and holding their hand. Let them know that if they let go of that hand, you will die. We must shame them into sending help.

Colonel Oliver

  • We're here as peace keepers, not peace makers.

George Rutaganda

  • [first lines, voiceover] When people ask me, good listeners, why do I hate all the Tutsi, I say, "Read our history." The Tutsi were collaborators for the Belgian colonists, they stole our Hutu land, they whipped us. Now they have come back, these Tutsi rebels. They are cockroaches. They are murderers. Rwanda is our Hutu land. We are the majority. They are a minority of traitors and invaders. We will squash this infestation. We will wipe out the RPF rebels. This is RTLM, Hutu power radio. Stay alert. Watch your neighbours.
  • Politics is power Paul, Hutu power.


  • Jack: [walking towards the bus carrying all the whites who are leaving Rwanda while the blacks are left behind] Oh, God, I'm so ashamed!
  • Pat Archer: [relating the last words of the orphan slain by the Hutus] Please don't let them kill me. I... I promise I won't be Tutsi anymore.


Colonel Oliver: You should spit in my face.
Paul: Excuse me, Colonel?
Colonel Oliver: You’re dirt. We think you’re dirt, Paul.
Paul: Who is we?
Colonel Oliver: The West. All the super powers. Everything you believe in, Paul. They think you’re dirt. They think you’re dumb. You’re worthless.
Paul: I am afraid I don't understand what you are saying, sir.
Colonel Oliver: Oh, come on, Paul, you're the smartest man here. You got 'em all eating out of your hands. You could own this frigging hotel, except for one thing. You're black. You're not even a nigger. You're an African. They’re not going to stay, Paul. They’re not going to stop this slaughter.

Paul: [of the Tutsi] You cannot seriously think that you can kill them all.
George: And why not? We are halfway there already.

Paul: How can they not do anything? Don't they care?
Jack: I think that when people turn on their TVs and see this footage, they'll say, "Oh my God, that's horrible," and then they'll go back to eating their dinners.


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