91 minutes, 2005 Directed by Peter Raymont. Produced by Peter Raymont and Lindalee Tracey. Written by Roméo Dallaire, based on his book.
ABOUT THE FILM
While many Americans were distracted by the OJ Simpson case, over 800,000 men, women and children were massacred in the small African country of Rwanda. The victims were mainly Tutsis, murdered by their Hutu neighbors. Canadian General Roméo Dallaire was charged with an impossible task: to head the UN peacekeeping mission with a handful of soldiers ordered not to use force to protect Rwandans from the mass slaughter.
Based on Dallaire’s best-selling book, Peter Raymont’s documentary follows the General’s return to the region 10 years later, as he comes to grips with the events that have haunted him: his struggles with top UN officials, expedient Belgian policy-makers and Clinton administration officials who ignored his pleas for reinforcements. The experience led to Dallaire’s own life tragedy as he dealt with the psychological fallout of witnessing a genocide he was powerless to stop. Judging from the current killings in Darfur, Sudan, the ethical dilemmas confronting the international community are as urgent now as a decade ago. SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL won the World Documentary Audience Award at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.
"Filmgoers eager to see a movie about heroism in the midst of moral ambiguity, about the superhuman efforts of one man against the engulfing forces of evil, about the competing and sometimes self-destructive dynamics of duty, courage and conscience, are hereby urged -- no ordered to forsake the cartoon fictions of Batman Begins and rush instead to see Shake Hands With the Devil."
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
"Wrenching. A solidly absorbing documentary. The film is part therapeutic personal exorcism and part passionate humanitarian indictment. [It] uses the lingering trauma of one man as a way of opening on larger questions of global indifference and responsibility."
Geoff Pevere, Toronto Star
"The deftly shaped film is more than one man's journey. [Mr. Dallaire's] narrative is reinforced with news clips and amateur video from a decade earlier. Those images can make the documentary tough to sit through, but it is also as compelling as its central character, a man haunted by his failed attempt to save all those lives. Moving beyond its devastating subject, the film expands into broader questions of political and personal responsibility."
Caryn James, New York Times
"***1/2 Heartbreaking and as topical as it could be. Remarkable! Required viewing!"
John Anderson, Newsday
"'I wish I could turn back right now,' retired Canadian Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire says meaningfully as he looks out the airplane window. 'To me it seems like going back into hell.' By the end of "Shake Hands With the Devil," the compelling, overwhelming documentary record of that journey (which won a deserved audience award at Sundance), no one could fail to understand why."
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
"Think of this as third in a trilogy of films about the 1994 Rwanda genocide. The first two ("Hotel Rwanda" and HBO's "Sometimes in April") were dramatizations of real life. This is the real thing -- a searing documentary. Documentarian Peter Raymont got incredible footage of Gen. Dallaire as he revisited the country in 2004. The tears, anger and words of reflection are unforgettable."
More About Rwanda and the UN International Fund for Rwanda The filmmakers and individuals portrayed in Hotel Rwanda have partnered with the United Nations Foundation to create the IFFR, a place where individuals can be certain their donations will be put directly towards helping Rwanda rebuild towards progress, reconciliation, and hope.