NOMINATED for three Academy Awards including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Screenplay, Terry George's powerful film is a hard-hitting lesson about one of the bloodiest chapters in African history.

April 6, 1994. The presidents of Rwanda and Burundi are killed in a plane crash orchestrated by Hutu extremists to prevent the implementation of a peace accord.

At the prestigious four-star Milles Collines hotel in Kigali, Hutu manager Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle) watches his country spiral into madness and bloodshed. Hutu extremists began slaughtering their Tutsi neighbours and any moderate Hutus who dare to stand in their way. Colonel Oliver (Nick Nolte) and his UN peacekeeping forces are compelled to stand by, so as not to breach their strict monitoring mandate. Paul's neighbours are murdered. Fearing for his family's life including his Tutsi wife Tatiana (Sophie Okenedo), he seeks shelter with his loved ones at the hotel. Airports are closed, trapping tourists at the hotel; meanwhile, hundreds upon hundreds of terrified Rwandans seek shelter at the complex.

Foreign governments finally intervene, but only to fly their nationals back home, including journalist David (David O'Hara) and his cameraman Jack (Joaquin Phoenix).

As the UN continues to do nothing and the international community turns a blind eye to the genocide, Paul offers shelter to more than 1,200 people facing down extremist leaders until Colonel Oliver and his men are able to transport them out of the war zone to relative safety.

Like Schindler's List, Hotel Rwanda is a stark and chilling reminder about man's capacity for sickening violence against his fellow man, and the power of one individual to make a difference.

Viewing the tragedy through the eyes of Paul and his family, the film shames us all for our failure to act in Rwanda's time of need. Over the course of 100 days, almost one million people were killed in Rwanda, without any international intervention or aid. Without Paul's incredible bravery and resilience, the 1,268 men, women and children in his care would surely have perished too.

Cheadle delivers a tour-de-force lead performance, calling in favours with people in high places to maintain some semblance of decorum at the Milles Collines. Okonedo is mesmerising too and there are strong supporting turns from Nolte, Phoenix et al as the westerners caught in the carnage.

George and co-writer Keir Pearson refract these momentous events through the struggles of Paul and his family, creating a taut human drama that cannot fail to move.

Rating 8/10