Monday, October 10, 2005

Pakistan Earthquake

Two friends have headed out to Pakistan this evening to support the earthquake relief efforts. You can keep a track on their progress here.

For further details regarding the quake try this portal.

Image source: Reuters.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Hotel Rwanda

I'm finally making headway through my DVD catalogue by getting round to seeing Hotel Rwanda, an independent film released last year. It revisits the shocking Rwandan genocide of 1994. Don Cheadle is cast as Paul Rusesabagina, an African Oskar Schindler, who, as the semi-corrupt assistant manager of the Belgian-owned Hotel des Mille Collines in Kigali uses every contact and franc at his disposal to secure the lives of over a thousand individuals who found themselves sheltered in the hotel/refugee camp.

The streetscapes are convincing (as are the characters; unlike Ridley Scott's west African actors masquerading as Somalians in Black Hawk Down) and the brutal atmosphere that is ignited by the death of the Rwandan president and perpetuated by the acts of the Interhamwe militia is recreated in humbling detail. A particularly startling scene involves Paul and a colleague driving along a riverside road when they are engulfed by a thick mist. The van begins to sway and rock leading them to believe they have veered off-road. The mist clears to reveal a road littered with human corpses and remains.

The geopolitical aspects of the whole affair are (perhaps understandably) rather simplistically portrayed and the tone at times too accusatory as in the strange exchange between Paul and Colonel Olivier (a fictionalised Roméo Dallaire):

"The West, all the superpowers, they think you're dirt. They think you're dung. You're not even a nigger. You're African."
The conventional ending does somewhat detract from the message by underming the event itself. But the film asks some poignant questions about the UN/Western response to the slaughter of almost a million people. It also makes you try and desperately recall what you were doing at the time.