Keir Pearson & Terry George

'Hotel Rwanda'

Studio: United Artists (released Dec. 22)

Category: Original

Storyline: Set during the Rwandan genocide, when 1 million Tutsis were killed by Hutus and their militias, the movie tells the true story of Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), manager of a posh tourist hotel in the capital. Using wits, connections and courage, he saves 1,200 Tutsis, defiantly sheltering them at the hotel while the rest of the world turns its back.

About the script: While maintaining a clear dramatic storyline, the script by George and Pearson explains the complex political forces behind the Rwandan tragedy. The hotel manager works as the pivot point of the plot because he has connections to all the other main characters. Flashes of humor leaven a grim story.

Biggest challenge: “This overwhelming sense of responsibility to the people who survived the genocide, especially Paul, to get it right,” notes Pearson.

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Breakthrough idea: The script crystallized when Pearson brought the story of the hotel manager to George, who had long been interested in doing something involving the Rwandan massacres. “With Paul you have the Everyman,” says George.

Standout scene: When the gonzo U.N. commander (Nick Nolte) commandeers a bus through a roadblock surrounded by rifle-firing Hutus. Also, when Paul and his wife share a wistfully romantic interlude on the roof of the hotel, despite nonstop gunfire on the ground.

Choice lines: “We have been abandoned. There will be no rescue, no intervention force, we must save ourselves.” — Paul, to the asylum seekers.

Writers’ bios: George received an Oscar nom for his first produced screenplay, “In the Name of the Father.” This is the first script credit for Keir Pearson, a longtime docu editor.