Introducing ResPoss Culture Club: Watch Hotel Rwanda

2 May 2014 | ResolutionPossible

WfxmgGY36BResolution:Possible is all about starting conversations about our connections to the world and each other. Since the arts can be a powerful and unifying catalyst to draw attention to real-world issues, we are experimenting with a virtual Culture Club which will highlight relevant films, books and other artistic content. Join in online via comments or on our social media platforms, or get together with friends to bring the conversation offline – as long as you’re thinking and talking!

Hollywood has produced several African ‘human rights’ films over recent years, including Blood Diamond, The Constant Gardener and Hotel Rwanda. The latter, about the events at Kigali’s Hotel des Milles Collines in 1994, is one of the few films about Africa in recent years to have garnered international acclaim and box office success.

Watch: Hotel Rwanda

Hotel Rwanda tells the true story of Paul Rusesabagina, the Hutu manager of the Belgian owned Hotel Des Milles Collines who is married to a Tutsi woman. As the political situation in the country worsens in 1994, Paul and his family start to see neighbours and friends fall victim to brutal violence. Paul is able to use his status as a Hutu and position in the hospitality industry to negotiate with people of influence, bribing them with money and alcohol. When civil war erupts Paul brings his family and close neighbours to the hotel. As more and more Tutsis seek refuge at the hotel, Paul must find ways to negotiate with both Hutu extremists and UN officials to save as many lives as possible.

Buy, rent or borrow a copy of Hotel Rwanda and let us know what you think of the film and its portrayal of the events that took place in 1994. Our team will share their thoughts in a follow-up post in the coming weeks.

ResPoss asks

These are just a few thoughts to bear in mind – you will no doubt have plenty of other reactions to share.

1. In the DVD commentary of the film, Director Terry George points out the ‘western existence’ in which Paul and his family live – in the way they dressed, their home and lifestyle. Do you think this was necessary for western audiences to identify with the family and engage more fully in their experiences? Would the film have been less popular if the film hadn’t been as relatable? Would you have responded differently?

2. Paul Rusesabagina has spoken about the film being “less violent” than the actual events, claiming that “you couldn’t invite someone to watch the real thing”. What do we lose or gain by sanitising real-life events for the viewer? How far should the arts go when retelling actual events?

3. Many comparisons have been drawn between this film and Schindler’s List, with many reviewers calling Rusesabagina “the African Schindler.” Is this a fair comparison?

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