Whatever you are doing right now, put it down and go rent Hotel Rwanda. It's that good.
Don Cheadle gives one of the most nuanced, insightful performances I've ever seen in a part that seems written for him. The other actors are similarly incredible.
For those who don't remember it, Rwanda was a simmering cauldron of turbulence in 1994. Fomenters of hate used the radio airways to goad a Hutu population who were already suffering economic distress to act against the Tutsi population. Before the rebel Tutsis took over, over 1 million Rwandans died.
The film shows how the ditherings and ineffective actions of the UN leadership, and the purposeful disregard of the Western powers led to the slaughter. The UN troops that stayed were under orders not to use force.
I viewed this film over the course of 3 days, in classes I was subbing in. By the time I had seen the same scenes for 6 periods a day, I was literally heartsick. After the first day, I brought in outside reading for most classes. I just couldn't stand to see it again and again.
Paul Rusesabagina, in a just world, would receive a Nobel Prize for Peace. His actions in harboring his countrymen saved 1268 lives.
One scene in the film shows the pre-massacre smuggling of machetes. They were imported from China for 10 cents each.
That was the price of a Rwandan life – 10 cents.
The kids in the classes "got" the film. They couldn't understand why the world didn't step in. I said only one thing - "What have you done about Darfur?"
They didn't know about the massacres. They couldn't locate it on a map. I pointed out that it was on the news, in the newspapers, and on the Internet. The next day, a few of the students came in having learnt about Darfur overnight.
The evils of the world happen literally under our noses. They happen because we ignore them. They happen because we don't pay attention. They happen because the perpetrators know it's safe to commit the atrocities - we will hear about them, and forget. We will be blind to what's right in front of us.
It's just not important enough to us.