Paul Rusesabagina, a member of the Hutu majority tribe in Rwanda, is married to a member of the Tutsi, the minority tribe that colonial powers installed as the nation’s rulers in an interference tactic that was common during the 19th century. By 1994, the year in which Terry George sets his film Hotel Rwanda, the Hutu majority was engaged in a genocidal conflict. More than 800,000 Tutsis and many moderate Hutus were slaughtered.
American actor Don Cheadle, who plays Rusesabagina, a hotel manager, is the film’s moral center. Quietly efficient in providing good service for white European guests at the Mille Collines, a Belgian-owned luxury hotel in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, he is also the classic tradesman, swapping Scotch for protection and expensive cigars for food supplies.