Hotel Rwanda

Powerful fact-based drama about Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), the manager of the posh Hotel Milles Collines in Kigali, Rwanda, who inadvertently turned the four-star resort into a harbor for over a thousand frightened Rwandans during the terrible massacre of Tutsis by rebel Hutus in 1994.

The film serves two purposes: The first is to recognize Rusesabagina's modern heroics – no fighter, this man, he uses only his wits – bribing when he has to, lying and blackmailing when it comes to it, all in the name of saving the lives of innocent people. The second is to show the grave injustice done to suffering Africans. The film pulls no punches when it comes to indicting Western culture's disinterest in the fate of third world peoples, even when they are being killed out in the streets. It's impossible not to feel guilty watching the heart-wrenching scene in which UN peacekeepers are ordered to clear only the white people out of the Hotel Milles Collines, abandoning the terrified Rwandans to their fate.

For the American-born Cheadle, it's the role of a lifetime, and he plays it for all it's worth: His Rusesabagina is a complex hero, one as dedicated to his job as he is to helping people. He's an ordinary man who never aspired to greatness, but had it thrust upon him out of necessity.

The film itself, by attaching faces and names to a people's suffering, will hopefully inspire more people to become aware – and active – when a crisis in an African nation once more demands attention. Oh, who am I kidding? Less than ten years after the tragedy in Rwanda, a similar one has exploded in Sudan – and who in the West cares about that? But if I sound angry, it's because Hotel Rwanda is angering in the best sense. Although Rusesabagina's own story is an uplifting one, deep down the film's message is profoundly disheartening.