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
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
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.