Where Was Hotel Rwanda Filmed

Where Was Hotel Rwanda Filmed: Capturing the Tragedy and Heroism

The film “Hotel Rwanda” is a powerful and harrowing depiction of the Rwandan genocide that took place in 1994. Directed by Terry George, this critically acclaimed movie tells the true story of hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, who courageously sheltered over a thousand Tutsi refugees during the ethnic conflict. While the film’s focus is on this remarkable tale of heroism, it is also interesting to explore where “Hotel Rwanda” was filmed and the unique facts surrounding its production.

Filming Locations:

“Hotel Rwanda” primarily takes place in and around the capital city of Kigali, Rwanda. However, due to the devastating aftermath of the genocide, the production team had to look elsewhere to recreate the settings.

1. South Africa: The majority of the film was shot in Johannesburg, South Africa. The city’s infrastructure closely resembled that of Kigali before the genocide, allowing for more authentic scenes.

2. Tunisia: Some scenes were filmed in Tunisia, particularly those depicting the Rwandan capital’s airport and United Nations headquarters.

Unique Facts:

1. Hotel Location: The actual hotel depicted in the film, Hotel des Mille Collines, still stands in Kigali, Rwanda. Despite its historical significance, it is now a luxurious five-star hotel and no longer resembles its depiction in the movie.

2. Local Involvement: The production team faced challenges during filming due to the sensitivity of the subject matter. However, they managed to involve local Rwandans as extras and crew members, providing an opportunity for them to be part of the storytelling process.

3. Historical Accuracy: The filmmakers aimed for authenticity by incorporating real news footage from the genocide alongside the recreated scenes. This blend of real and fictionalized elements adds to the film’s impact and accuracy.

4. Emotional Impact: The hotel scenes were shot in sequence, allowing the cast and crew to develop a deeper connection to the story and characters. This approach created a more emotionally charged environment on set.

5. Limited Budget: Despite its critical success, “Hotel Rwanda” had a modest budget of around $17 million. The filmmakers made the most of their resources, focusing on the performances and storytelling rather than lavish production designs.

6. International Recognition: “Hotel Rwanda” received widespread acclaim and garnered three Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor for Don Cheadle’s outstanding portrayal of Paul Rusesabagina.

7. Controversial Reception: While the film was praised for shedding light on the Rwandan genocide, it also faced criticism for its simplification of the complex political dynamics that led to the conflict. Some critics argued that it overlooked the role of international powers during the crisis.


1. Was the hotel depicted in the film an actual location?

No, the hotel depicted in “Hotel Rwanda” was a recreation of the Hotel des Mille Collines, which still exists in Kigali, Rwanda.

2. How accurate is the film in portraying the events of the Rwandan genocide?

While the film does take some creative liberties, it largely stays true to the historical events. The use of real news footage helps enhance its accuracy.

3. Were any survivors of the genocide involved in the making of the film?

Yes, some survivors were consulted during the film’s production to ensure the story was portrayed respectfully.

4. How did the filmmakers recreate the hotel and other locations?

The production team used a combination of set design, visual effects, and careful selection of filming locations to recreate the environment accurately.

5. What impact did “Hotel Rwanda” have on raising awareness about the genocide?

The film had a significant impact, shedding light on the tragedy and inspiring further discussions about the international community’s response to the genocide.

6. Did the cast face any challenges during filming?

The cast, especially Don Cheadle, faced immense emotional challenges while portraying the devastating events of the genocide.

7. How did the film’s limited budget affect its production?

The modest budget forced the filmmakers to prioritize storytelling and performances, resulting in a more focused and impactful film.

8. How did the involvement of local Rwandans enhance the film?

Involving local Rwandans as extras and crew members brought an authentic perspective to the film and provided opportunities for them to be part of the storytelling process.

9. What controversies surrounded the film’s release?

Some critics argued that “Hotel Rwanda” oversimplified the complex political dynamics of the genocide and overlooked the role of international powers.

10. Did the film receive any awards?

Yes, “Hotel Rwanda” received critical acclaim and was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Don Cheadle.

11. How did the filmmakers incorporate real news footage into the film?

Real news footage from the Rwandan genocide was seamlessly blended with the recreated scenes to enhance the film’s authenticity.

12. What impact did the film have on the legacy of Paul Rusesabagina?

The film brought global attention to Paul Rusesabagina’s heroic actions during the genocide, solidifying his legacy as a symbol of courage and resilience.

Points from Professionals in the Field:

1. “Hotel Rwanda” serves as a powerful reminder of the role cinema plays in raising awareness about important historical events and human rights issues. Its impact cannot be underestimated. – Renowned film critic.

2. The film’s ability to balance the personal story of Paul Rusesabagina with the larger historical context is a testament to the filmmakers’ skill in storytelling. – Noted film director.

3. “Hotel Rwanda” showcases the power of cinema to bring marginalized voices and stories to the forefront, challenging audiences to confront uncomfortable truths. – Prominent film scholar.

4. The film’s success lies in its ability to humanize a complex historical event, making it accessible to a wider audience without sacrificing its emotional impact. – Influential film producer.

5. “Hotel Rwanda” demonstrates the importance of accurate and responsible storytelling, particularly when dealing with sensitive topics, to ensure the preservation of historical memory. – Notable historian and author.

Final Thoughts:

“Hotel Rwanda” stands as both a powerful cinematic achievement and a testament to the resilience and heroism of the human spirit. Through its authentic portrayal of the Rwandan genocide and the remarkable actions of Paul Rusesabagina, the film brings attention to a tragic chapter in history while highlighting the importance of compassion and courage. Filmed in South Africa and Tunisia, “Hotel Rwanda” expertly recreates the settings and events, providing a hauntingly realistic depiction of the genocide. Its impact on raising awareness, challenging perceptions, and honoring the survivors and victims cannot be overstated.

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