In April 1994, after the airplane of the Hutu President of Rwanda is shot down, the Hutu militias slaughter the Tutsi population. In the Ecole Technique Officielle, the Catholic Priest Christopher (Sir John Hurt) and the idealistic English teacher Joe Connor (Hugh Dancy) lodge two thousand five hundred Rwandans refugees, under the protection of the Belgian U.N. force, and under siege by Hutu militia. When the Tutsi refugees are abandoned by the U.N., they are murdered by the extremist militia.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The characters are fictional, but the events are not. Parts of this movie were shot at Ecole Technique Officielle (E.T.O.), a high school in Kigali, where the actual events took place. The title of this movie comes from the fact that U.N. peacekeepers used to shoot local dogs that fed on the decomposing bodies of the genocide victims. See more »
The French troops who conduct the evacuation of whites from the school appear to use Land Rover Defenders. The light transport vehicle of the contemporary French troops is the Peugeot P-4, a French-made version of the Mercedes G-Wagen. See more »
How much pain can a human being take? If you feel enough pain, does everything just shut down? Before you've done it.
I don't know, Joe.
Cause you think no one knew. You think that it'd be something... Something that you designed, you know, shed or fell. If you feel enough pain.
I hope so.
Yeah, God knows it. Maybe we should ask him. He's still around.
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Before the credits we are shown photographs of Rwanda genocide survivors who served as on set crew members. Next to each picture is text stating how many loved ones they lost. See more »
A "clean language version" of the film was released on DVD in 2007. See more »
I am a judge for the Indianapolis-based Heartland Film Festival. This feature film is a Crystal Heart Award Winner and is eligible to be the Grand Prize Winner in October of 2006. The Heartland Film Festival is a non-profit organization that honors Truly Moving Pictures. A Truly Moving Picture " explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life."
As the film starts, I first thought that "Hotel Rwanda" told this story, albeit differently, and there was no reason to do it again. As the story progresses, my next thought was that you can never stop telling this story again and again 800,000 dead, mostly Tutsis, at the hands of the Hutus, the majority in power. "The Diary of Anne Frank" could not tell the whole story of another genocide 45 years earlier when the Nazis slaughtered many millions of Jews. There was room, and a need for "Schindler's List."
This film revolves around a school in Rwanda in 1994 under siege. Inside of the school are many black Tutsi students, a UN peace-keeping force with a sympathetic Belgium Captain, a dedicated young white teacher, and the school head, a Catholic priest named Christopher, played brilliantly by John Hurt. The school is surrounded by machete-bearing Hutus waiting for the chance to kill any Tutsi they find whether they are a baby, a woman, an old man, simply any Tutsi, who they, the Hutus, derisively call cockroaches. Mans' inhumanity to man could not be displayed in a more ugly fashion.
What does a well meaning, civilized person do when confronted with indescribable savagery? Run for safety or futilely stay and die?
This question is answered differently by different characters. The priest is losing all hope, but is innately courageous and focused on his faith. The UN Captain is sympathetic, but like any soldier feels driven to follow orders even if his superiors are remote and insensitive. The white teacher has great affection for the Tutsis, but is just starting out in life. A BBC reporter leaves the under siege school when first given the chance and states what might be true for most of us: "We're all selfish people in the end."
"Hotel Rwanda" was nominated for three Academy Awards for acting and writing. This film has the same high caliber of acting and writing as well as art direction and directing. It is moving without being exploitive. It is true, compelling storytelling that will haunt you for a long time to come.
The headlines about the genocide in Darfur in the Western Sudan will have a new unsettling meaning for you.
FYI There is a Truly Moving Pictures web site where you can find a listing of past Crystal Heart Award winners as well as other Truly Moving Picture Award winners that are now either at the theater or available on video.
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