A certain sign a serious movie is about to unspool is when the screening begins with Harrison Ford at the podium calling the film “important, timely and poignant,” followed by Angelina Jolie speaking about the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
At Thursday’s Academy premiere of “Hotel Rwanda,” MGM vice chairman Chris McGurk said there was hesitation to make a film about the Rwandan genocide because “everyone looked away at the time of the massacre. Despite having a great script, director and Don Cheadle lined up to star, there was the fear the moviegoing audience was going to look away, too. We decided to go for it.”
The screening ended with the presentation of Amnesty Intl.’s Enduring Spirit award to Paul Rusesabagina (portrayed by Cheadle in the film), who called the preem “a night of joy because this means the story of what happened in 1994 gets out.”
Screening was followed by a reception in the lobby then a private concert by Wyclef Jean (who sings the title track) and Jerry Wonder at Pearl.
Among those attending were MGM’s Alex Yemenidjian and UA’s Danny Rosett; helmer Terry George; producer A. Kitman Ho; screenwriter Keir Pearson; plus guests including Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Macy Gray, Faye Kanin, Calista Flockhart and Jim Caviezel.