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Movie Blog: Seeing 'Hotel Rwanda' Should be Required for Citizenship in the World

March 5, 2005 – Every once in a while comes a film that every high school student in America, if not the world, should be required to see to give them a clue about how things really work. Warren Beatty's brilliant satire on politics and race relations in America, "Bulworth," is one of them. "Hotel Rwanda" is another.
Having done substantial reading about the Rwandan genocide and the outside world's blind eye to it, I was thrilled to see that writer/director Terry George did not miss one issue, one innuendo, one reality of the what happened during those heinous three months in 1994 when one million people were slaughtered.
The film is packed with greed, corruption, hatred, love, loyalty, humor and most of all, courage.
From the scene where a white Western journalist gets on a bus leaving his Rwandan lover behind, while saying, "I am so ashamed," to the look on Paul Rusesabagina's (played by Don Cheadle) face as he watched footage, shot minutes before, of his countrymen and women being massacred by machete wielding Hutu's, the film is a masterpiece of chilling subtlety. There is nothing, "in your face" about it, but it doesn't miss a punch.
For a film that portrays the systematic annihilation of a million people, there is not one moment of remotely gratuitous violence. Yet I felt every gut-wrenching bit of the fear and horror the people involved must have felt.
The truth of the shameful betrayal of the Tutsis by every Western nation on the face of the earth portrayed on the wide screen, in an impeccably written screenplay by Keir Pearson and George , has left me – 24 hours later – with a terrible lump in my throat and heart – and wondering what people who don't have the courage and wiles of a Rusesagagina, or even the reason to take such courageous action, can do in our daily lives to stop such atrocities from happening.
"Hotel Rwanda" is a true story about the worst and the best in us. It is a story about what we are all capable of, depending on what we truly value.
This is one of those films that you just have to be glad got made, even if it was 10 years later. Let's hope it stays on for another week, at least. Take your teenagers, take your friends. This really happened and it is still happening. We can't, as the journalist says in the film, just say, "oh isn't that awful," and go back to our dinners.
It is playing right now on St. Thomas – don't miss it.

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