Hotel Rwanda
dir. George
Opens Fri Jan 7
Fox Tower

Even if the acting is stiff and the plot a bit too tidy, you're obligated to see Hotel Rwanda. In 1994 over the course of 100 days, nearly one million Rwandans were slaughtered with machetes and clubs. It's a killing rate that humbles the Nazis; news photos showed rivers bloated with bodies and roadblocks made from corpses.

Hotel Rwanda tells the story of a relative calm in the middle of that brutal storm of killing. In the midst of that hell on earth, Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager, gave refuge to 1200 Rwandans. With bribes and cunning, Rusesabagina (portrayed by Don Cheadle in the film) tried to hold off the rebels. Recently, the Mercury met with Rusesabagina and the film's director, Terry George.

There's a scene early in the movie when your son goes to the neighbors. You find him in the bushes the next morning, covered in blood.

Rusesabagina: Early in the morning, my son went to see one of his friends. When he arrived, he saw nine bodies. Not all completely dead. He stayed for four days without talking.

How is he now?

Rusesabagina: Like everybody, he has nightmares. [Later in the film, Rusesabagina arranges for three UN trucks to convoy about 150 Tutsis out of the country, but they are ambushed.] The [film] crew asked my son, "Is that really how it happened?" He told them that the truck was so full of blood when they opened the back door, blood just flooded out.

George: I took the position that we just couldn't show that level of violence. We could have used horror movie tricks, but I wanted to bring this to the largest audience possible. [The film is rated PG-13.]

If someone is watching this in Portland, Oregon, what should it inspire them to do?

Rusesabagina: About 10,000 people were killed a day. We cannot change it, but we can learn. And now, it is again happening in Sudan. We should at least learn to listen.