SPIRITUAL focus on film

African hero

Meet a hero: Paul Rusesabagina, one-time manager of the four-star Hotel Mille Collines in the city of Kigali. And see his story: Hotel Rwanda, a film that recounts Paul's heroic actions during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. And if you're worried about what you'll have to witness on screen, it's not too rough. The filmmakers manage to convey the chaos and brutality of this three-month period without gratuitous excursions into grisly scenes of the carnage.

But Hotel Rwanda doesn't pull any punches, either. As the film opens, the story of the Rusesabagina family's struggle for survival intertwines with the horrors Rwandans faced when the rest of the world ignored the genocide that swept this African nation. At the start of the hostilities, Europeans, foreign peace workers, and 90 percent of the UN's soldiers pulled out, leaving almost one million Tutsis to be slaughtered by the Hutu militia. And during the 100 days of genocide, three million people crossed into neighboring countries, creating the world's worstever refugee crisis.

The inspiring message of this movie centers on what one person can accomplish by staying calm in the face of chaos—by never caving in to fear, to degradation, to hopelessness. As Don Cheadle, who stars in the film, describes the character he plays, "Paul kept his faith, his head, and his wits about him and orchestrated the survival of everyone who came to the Hotel Mille Collines. It's an amazing journey." And Paul's journey rose to heroic proportions because he refused to use violence and brutality, even when those tactics seemed his only way out of danger.

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SPIRITUAL focus on books
Freedom: A continuing journey
January 17, 2005

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