Release date: Dec. 22
Distributor: United Artists
Genocide, in all its horrific cinematic incarnations, has always resonated deeply with the Academy.
From best picture winners “Schindler’s List” and “Braveheart,” to Haing S. Ngor’s supporting turn in “The Killing Fields,” tragedy on a massive scale has left voters feeling that an Oscar, in some small way, can open the eyes to a public unaware of the injustices man has perpetrated upon man.
Such may be the case this year for “Hotel Rwanda,” which transports auds to one of history’s most horrific scenes of atrocity.
The UA pic details the slaughter of nearly 1 million Rwandans over 100 days in 1994 through the eyes of hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, played by Don Cheadle. It certainly has a chance to make an impression with Acad voters in that it brings to light a subject that was largely ignored by the world.
Cheadle’s character, who is still alive today, takes in nearly 1,300 people — most of whom are sleeping on the floor and on top of one another — in order to avoid the slaughter going on outside the gates of the luxury hotel he works for. Both his heartfelt compassion in the film and standing in the acting community give Cheadle, a three-time Emmy nominee and Golden Globe winner (“The Rat Pack”), a chance at an acting nomination.
Sophie Okonedo, who plays Rusesabagina’s wife, is getting noticed for her performance, which lends a sense of immediacy to the harrowing ordeal. She also scored high marks last year for her work in “Dirty Pretty Things.”
Director-writer Terry George, who co-scripted with Keir Pearson, was Oscar nominated in 1994 for adapted screenplay, penning “In the Name of the Father” with longtime collaborator Jim Sheridan. An original screenplay nom for the heart-tugging “Rwanda” is a possibility.
As producer, A. Kitman Ho is an Oscar vet, having been nommed for both “JFK” and “Born on the Fourth of July.”
Below the line, cinematographer Robert Fraisse has Oscar credentials with a nom for French film “The Lover” (1992), while production designer Tony Burrough was nominated in 1996 for “Richard III.”