8:00 PM, 26th August, 2005
In 1994, a chapter in modern tragedy unfolded that eclipses events like September 11, 2001. Almost a million people were slaughtered in just 100 days, as the Hutu majority responded to the assassination of Rwanda's president by killing Tutsis.
Hotel Rwanda tells one aspect of the story - that of Paul Rusesabagina, who managed to give shelter to thousands of refugees in the hotel he was employed at.
This is a superb, but gut-wrenching, film. Don Cheadle has always been an under-rated actor, playing strong support in films like The Assassination of Richard Nixon and Ocean's 11, but is given the lead here, and he delivers his best. Sophie Okonedo (seen in last semester's Dirty Pretty Things) is also wonderful as Tatiana Rusesabagina.
This film made me angry. Angry at the Western world and its leaders who virtually ignored the genocide as it happened, and relied on the United Nations forces to try and stem the tide without engaging in combat. Angry also at the media who helped the ignorance (Joaquin Phoenix sums it up perfectly in the film). My hope is that Hotel Rwanda is a full house this semester, and many others can be angry as well.
10:00 PM, 26th August, 2005
Based on the book by Gene Lyons and Joe Conason, and utilising archival footage and previously unseen interviews, this documentary traces the systematic and relentless campaign by the political Right to discredit and bring down President Bill Clinton. The accusations began with Clinton's alleged sexual indiscretions while he was Governor of Arkansas, then explores the allegations of wrong doing during the Whitewater land purchase, and the Monica Lewinsky dalliance, which led to the Ken Starr report and impeachment proceedings. The film reveals that an organisation, known as The Arkansas Project, was set up with the express purpose of "digging up dirt" on Clinton's past. It also exposes the partisan tactics used by Kenneth Starr. In a revelatory interview, Susan McDougal (the wife of Jim McDougal, who was Clinton's Whitewater business partner) reveals the details of a meeting with staff from Ken Starr's office. Susan was threatened with indictment unless she offered "dirt" on President Clinton and Hilary. Susan opted for gaol rather than to perjure herself. The documentary could be accused of being one-sided and the use of footage from old movies, intended to spice up the film, only serves to distract, but otherwise this a fascinating indictment of slander and innuendo for political ends.