A clear-eyed look at the Rwandan genocide is offered in Sometimes in April
, a frank take on the 1994 slaughter that claimed upwards of 800,000 lives. Some overlap with Hotel Rwanda
is inevitable, and this HBO feature does have similarities, but without the strong suspenseful storyline of Hotel
. Its protagonist (the strong Idris Elba, from The Wire
) pieces together the past tragedy from the perspective of a decade-later war-crimes tribunal, where his brother is on trial. It's hard to know which is less bearable--the depiction of atrocities, such as mass murder at a girls school, or the second-guessing of the international community, which largely stood by while the horror was unfolding. (Like Hotel Rwanda
, this film zeroes in on the U.S. government's distinction that "acts of genocide" occurred in Rwanda rather than "genocide," a Joseph Heller-like absurdity.) The plain style of director Raoul Peck, shooting on location in Rwanda, works for the subject; his film Lumumba
was also a direct, blunt account of a tragedy in Africa. The approach doesn't work as well in the U.S. scenes, which feature Debra Winger as a concerned official; these just look clumsy. But the subject itself remains worthy of close attention. --Robert Horton
(Drama) In April 1994, one of the most heinous genocides in world history began in the African nation of Rwanda. Over the course of 100 days, an estimated 800,000 people were killed in a terrifying purge by Hutu nationalists against their Tutsi countrymen. This harrowing HBO Films drama focuses on the almost indescribable human atrocities that took place a decade ago through the story of two Hutu brothers--one in the military, one a radio personality--whose relationship and private lives were forever changed in the midst of the genocide. Written and directed by Raoul Peck, (HBO Films' Lumumba) the movie is the first large-scale film about the 100 days of the 1994 Rwandan genocide to be shot in Rwanda, in the locations where the real-life events transpired.