'Hotel Rwanda'--from inception to screen-- brought to PPRC by movie's script-writer

Posted on: Monday, 10 January 2022

Seventeen years have passed since the movie, "Hotel Rwanda," was released; starring Don Cheadle as the property manager, Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu, and his Tutsi wife, the show depicts how more than 1,000 Rwandans' lives were saved by their heroics.

With a multi-award nominated release, another life was remarkably changed: Keir Pearson's. Keir, the son of Pearl Rotarian John Pearson, wrote the original script. Researched over five years before the December 2004 release, Keir traveled from the USA /New York City to Kigali, Rwanda, and to Belgium for information and interviews.

Speaking to Rotarians virtually from his current home in Irvine, Calif., Keir said he became captivated by "the hotel manager who saved one thousand lives in the epicenter of the genocide. "He was an ordinary man who did everything while all the leaders of the world did nothing," Keir observed.

He admitted it became a personal mission: "I felt this responsibility; I had to do something...This terrible thing happened and the world didn't care." His quest to write a movie script led to interviews with victims (some who survived brutality); the stories he heard were "pretty horrific."

He immersed himself into the tribal history of Rwanda "to fully understand the violence and its long-lasting rippling effect." Its politics also needed Keir's examination.

There were hurdles at every step, Keir said. Would movie-goers attend? Did anyone care about the genocide of 1994 in the middle of Africa? Who would finance this?

A big break occurred when United Artists agreed to distribute it. Ultimately, the Hotel Rwanda screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award (one of many citations won by the film).

P.S. Check out this review by critic Roger Ebert which mentions Keir by name: www.rogerebert.com/reviews/hotel-rwanda-2004

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