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SOMETIMES IN APRIL
SUBJECTS — World/Rwanda & the Post-Cold War Era; U.S./1991 to Current;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Human Rights; Courage;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Respect; Citizenship.
Hotel Rwanda: Age: 14+; MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief strong language; Drama; 2004; 121 minutes; Color.
Sometimes in April: Age: 14+; Rating: TV-MA (suitable for mature audiences or adults only); Drama; 2005; 140 minutes; Color.
Hotel Rwanda tells how the manager of a hotel protected more than 1200 people from the killers' machetes during the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. Like Schindler's List, this movie paints an inspiring portrait of an ordinary man's evolving moral conviction and how, using his wits and charm, he held maniacal killers at bay. It is an excellent lesson in courage and describes the difficult position of peacekeeping forces when they are not supported by the international community.
Sometimes in April has a broader sweep, recounting the stories of many victims of the genocide. In addition, the film describes the situation of three fictional survivors. Martine was a teacher at a Catholic girl's school who lives with the memory of seeing her class massacred. Augustin, a Hutu, had married a Tutsi and suffered the loss of his family: his wife and sons were murdered trying to escape while his daughter was a student in Martine's class. The third survivor, Augustin's brother, Honore, was a hate-mongering announcer for Radio RTLM. He is on trial before the International War Crimes Tribunal for inciting people to commit genocide. This movie shows the horror of the genocide and the difficulty of recovery. The film raises questions of guilt, punishment, forgiveness, and reconciliation that Rwandans must still resolve.
Either one of these films will provide students with interest and motivation to study the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.
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Learning Guide Excerpt
To demonstrate how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to improve lesson plans, we have set out below a small portion of the helpful background from the Learning Guide to Hotel Rwanda and Sometimes in April.
Many of the U.N. peacekeepers acted heroically to save lives during the genocide. Particularly stalwart were the units from Ghana and Tunisia. Officers from several other countries attached to the U.N. mission also acted heroically. Prohibited by civilian authorities at the U.N. from firing their guns except to protect their own lives, UNAMIR soldiers placed their bodies between the genocidaires and people who needed protection. At times they would have to pull and kick the killers from their intended victims. Individuals like Phillipe Gaillard of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the U.N. Force Commandeer commander Lt. General Roméo Dallaire went to heroic lengths to save Rwandans.
Senegalese Captain Mbaye Diagne, a peacekeeper serving under General Dallaire, was a charismatic man whose official position was liaison between the Rwandan armed forces and the U.N. This provided him with an excuse to move around Kigale [the capital of Rwanda where many of the killings took place]. He charmed, bantered, and bribed his way through roadblocks to save lives a few at a time. He saved the children of the Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana who was killed by the Rwandan Army in the first hours of the genocide. Captain Diagne, a devout Muslim, is thought to have rescued hundreds of people. His actions were contrary to UNAMIR's rules of engagement. General Dallaire knew what Captain Diagne was doing, but took no steps to stop him. Unfortunately, Captain Diagne was killed by [a] mortar as he tried to negotiate his way through a government military checkpoint.
The Learning Guide to the film Hotel Rwandaand Sometimes in April contains sections on Benefits of the Movie, Possible Problems, Helpful Background, Discussion Questions, Links to the Internet, and Bridges to Reading. The Discussion Questions are divided into three categories: Subject Matter, Social-Emotional Learning, and Moral-Ethical Emphasis.
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