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Hotel Rwanda - Terry George Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. In the director's statement, you very honestly say that your biggest fear in this project was failure? Can I take it that you felt you had assumed a huge responsibility in taking on this awesome story?
A.
Yeah that and having awesome actors and awesome crew and awesome everything except myself, you know? It was mine to mess up. I guess that's the case in any film but with this one, having been to Rwanda, met the survivors, visited the particular genocide sites and come away from Rwanda with an obligation, I felt, to make the film. And that obligation had to be to get it out to the widest audience so it was a joyous experience and a fearful experience shooting the film, and even more fearful marketing it now because when you know you've got something that works and conveys a message, as we did, coming out of Toronto, where the audience responded, then you're in the hands of the Hollywood marketing machine and that was the scariest proposition of all.

Q. Do you have a home full of footage that you shot of Paul while preparing to do the movie?
A.
Some of it's on our website, hotelrwanda.com, and yeah we shot a lot of stuff. We shot in the hotel, talking to Paul, and Tatiana, and also visiting genocide sites. You like to have research you can hand out to people and say to people 'here, look at this and that'.

Q. Where were you when you heard about the Oscar nominations and how did you react?
A
. I was at home in New York. There is a certain sort of.. watching the nominations process, I think it's better than watching the awards cos we didn't win the last time! But to tell the truth, I was elated for these guys and then, because of the nature of the picture and the need for the widest possible distribution, really bummed out when we didn't get a best picture nomination because it cut our distribution in the United States in half pretty much.
So I was delighted for myself. But they do it alphabetically, so when they went from Aviator to Finding Neverland, to Million Dollar Baby, I'm like 'oh Christ!'.
Everybody else is like dancing around me and so happy but I knew the political implication of it - but then you get over that and it's great.

Q. What inspires you to make the films that you make, which all have roots in reality?
A.
I look for characters, or true stories, that enable you to write a script where the character can become the eyes and the ears of the audience and take the audience inside an event that they basically have no comprehension of, and try and give an insight/perspective of that - whether it's the Conlon family in jail in England or Paul in the Rwandan genocide.
And I think it's a unique ability that film has, that documentary and certainly news footage doesn't have, to get inside a story and allow people to empathise with the individuals involved.
There's a humanity about it that I think is hard to get even in a documentary and is almost impossible to get now in news footage because more and more news footage is just looking for the bang bang of an event. We've been totally de-sensitised by it. So, for me, that's the best form of story-telling. It's fulfilling.

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