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Hotel Rwanda: Bringing the True Story of an African Hero to Film

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The official companion book, edited by director Terry George, including essays on the history of the genocide, the complete screenplay written by Keir Pearson & Terry George, and more than 70 photographs.

A Story That Had to Be Told: In 1994, as his country descended into madness, Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager of a Belgian-owned luxury hotel in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, used cunning and courage to save 1,268 people from certain death while the rest of the world ...

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The official companion book, edited by director Terry George, including essays on the history of the genocide, the complete screenplay written by Keir Pearson & Terry George, and more than 70 photographs.

A Story That Had to Be Told: In 1994, as his country descended into madness, Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager of a Belgian-owned luxury hotel in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, used cunning and courage to save 1,268 people from certain death while the rest of the world closed its eyes. His real-life story inspired the Oscar®-nominated writer of In the Name of the Father, Terry George, to make the extraordinary film, Hotel Rwanda, starring Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, Joaquin Phoenix, and Nick Nolte, which has received accolades from critics and moviegoers alike, winning numerous awards.

Now, in the only official companion book, comes the fascinating filmmaking story, with first-person pieces by Terry George and co-screenwriter Keir Pearson about their three-year struggle to gain support and financing, as well as a brief history of Rwanda with details on the actual events portrayed in the movie.

Illustrated with more than 70 historical and contemporary photos and movie stills, the book also includes journalist Nicola Graydon's report on joining Paul Rusesabagina when he first returned to Rwanda on the tenth anniversary of the genocide; writer Anne Thompson's personal journal of her visit to the set in Africa during production in February 2004; and a compelling transcript of the PBS Frontline documentary revealing the afterthoughts of officials who chose not to listen to the cries for help. In addition there is a timeline of the crisis, a further reading and viewing list, and the complete screenplay.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 1994, Rwanda endured a genocide of about 800,000 people, mostly minority Tutsi slaughtered by machete-wielding Hutu, the country's majority. During the three months of killing, Paul Rusesabagina, now often called the Rwandan Schindler, sheltered and saved more than 1,200 people in the hotel he managed in the capital city of Kigali. Hotel Rwanda is of course the acclaimed film about Rusesabagina, played by Don Cheadle; George is the film's director, and in this powerful volume he marshals writings by himself and others that provide context and commentary on both the movie and the holocaust that prompted it. The book most notably includes the screenplay of Hotel Rwanda by Keir Pearson and George, an inspiring and devastating script. Of only slightly less emotional impact is the transcript of "The Triumph of Evil," a Frontline/PBS documentary about the genocide and the West's (and the U.N.'s) neglect of it-among the commentators is Philip Gourevitch, whose We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families helped bring the genocide to global attention. Pieces by Pearson and George explain their involvement in the project (it all began in 1999 when a novelist friend of Pearson's told him Rusesabagina's story), followed by two journalists' accounts (by Brit Nicola Graydon and Hollywood reporter Anne Thompson) of Rusesabinga and the movie; a "history" section explains Rwanda's past. Also included is a list of books, Web and other resources. George writes in an epigraph, "For the dead of Murambi. I will never forget." This important book will inspire others to take the same vow. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This book includes essays on the history of Rwanda, background on the genocide, information on making the movie, the script of a Frontline/Public Broadcasting System documentary, the final draft of the screenplay, and brief biographies and photographs of the true players and of the actors in this human drama. Background information stresses that George wanted the movie to focus on the story of Paul Rusesabagina, a modern hero, not on violence, blood, and killing of thousands of innocent civilians with machetes. Rusesabagina is quoted as saying he realizes the actual horror could not be shown on the screen but appreciates that the story was told. The book is relevant both to history and to current events and could easily be integrated into high school English and social studies curricula. The unfortunate success of the Clinton administration's policy of inaction, undertaken for a variety of reasons, stands in stark contrast to Bush's starting a preemptive war. A debate on the genesis and worldwide impact of each would encourage potent use of research and high-order thinking skills. A superb and powerful book. 2005, Newmarket Press, Ages 14 up.
—Mary Bowman-Kruhm, Ph.D.
Foreign Affairs
Reviews of this excellent film have hailed the stellar performances of Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo and noted the great pathos of its true story: a Hutu hotel manager in Kigali saves the lives of over a thousand people during the 1994 Rwandan genocide by giving them refuge in the hotel and resorting to guile and bribery to protect them from the army and Hutu militias over a span of several months. As storytelling, the film succeeds brilliantly, despite some sentimental excesses. But does it convey an accurate account of the genocide? In fact, the film's depiction of events in Rwanda in the early 1990s is remarkably free of dramatic license. The narrative on ethnic conflict in Rwanda and the sequence of events is essentially sound (although it does imply that it was Hutu extremists who assassinated President Juvénal Habyarimana, a thesis that remains contested). The early scenes in town and at the hotel re-create the mood, sights, sounds, and social relations of a small African capital as well as any Hollywood movie ever has. One quibble: like too many other accounts of the genocide, the story concludes with the arrival of the Tutsi rebels in Kigali, implying that the killings stopped then. This end makes dramatic sense but conveys a historical inaccuracy, since, alas, the country endured many more months of intense violence, including tens of thousands of reprisal killings.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557046703
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/1/2005
  • Series: Insider Filmbooks Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,080,622
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry George, Hotel Rwanda director/producer and co-writer with Keir Pearson, received Academy Award® and BAFTA nominations for his first produced screenplay, In the Name of the Father. Later he adapted and directed the acclaimed HBO movie based on Neil Sheehan's Pulitzer Prize-winning tale, A Bright Shining Lie, nominated for Emmy® and Golden Globe awards. George's other writing credits include The Boxer and Hart's War. He also created and produced the acclaimed original CBS-TV series The District. George lives in Ireland and New York.

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Table of Contents

I A story that needed to be told
Keir Pearson : the beginning 13
Terry George : my promise 23
II Chronicles
Nicola Graydon : the Rwandan Schindler 33
Anne Thompson : the struggle of memory against forgetting 47
Frontline PBS : the triumph of evil 61
III History
A brief history of Rwanda 93
Basic facts 99
Timeline : the Rwandan crisis 101
Resources and further reading 109
IV The screenplay
Screenplay 115
Credits 245
Bios 250
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2005

    I went to see the movie. i am watiting for the book

    Well i went to see the movie hotel rwanda, even though the closest one was like 2 hrs from me. since it was in selected theaters. but i will tell u it was worth going to see. inspriring. civil. suspense. but check out the book and movie its moving.

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