Screenplay Genre:  Biography / Drama / History

Movie time:  121 minutes


Thomas and Fedens, Tatiana’s brother and sister-in-law, visit Paul (Don Cheadle) and mention a contact of theirs told them of a code word, “Tall Trees,” that when stated is to spark the Hutu uprising, and the destruction of the Tutsi.  They plead with Paul to let Tatiana and the children escape town with them since Paul is Hutu and will be spared, but Paul assures them they have nothing to fear: the president will be signing the peace treaty between the Hutu and Tutsi forces, the UN is in town, and everyone will be safe. (00:17:10)

2.  LOCK IN (End of Act One)

The Rwandan President has been murdered before signing the treaty, the code word “Tall Trees” has been declared, and warfare bordering on genocide has broken out among the Hutu militia (the Interahamwe) against the Tutsi people.  And after the Interahamwe break into Paul’s home and find a small refuge of Tutsi there, Paul bribes the Interahamwe with money in order to convince them to free the Tutsi and let Paul drive them to Hôtel des Mille Collines. Upon arrival, Paul’s manager gives him the keys, putting Paul in charge of the hotel and the lives within it. (00:30:59)


After UN forces abandon the hotel, the Interahamwe order Paul to provide a list of guests, clearly intending to kill them, but Paul calls Mr. Tillens, president of Sabena, to tell him that the 100 staffers and 800 guests will be murdered. Tillens tells him to stall the Hutu while he contacts the French, who supply the Hutu army.  As a result, the French order the Interahamwe out of the hotel, but Tillens fails to convince the rest of the international community to intervene and rescue the Hotel’s refugees.  So, Paul, in a rousing speech, tells the refugees that they’re on their own and must contact everyone they know who can help them if they are to survive. (1:05:37)

4.  MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

The calls sent out by the refugees work and UN forces arrive to rescue only some of them. Paul’s family is among that short list, but Paul stays behind – explaining that he cannot leave the other people to die.  The Hutu, however, have received word about the refugee rescue mission and attack the convoy, forcing the UN trucks to return to the hotel, putting Paul’s family back into danger once again (1:34:44).


Paul takes General Bizimungu to the Diplomat, Sabena’s other hotel, in order to bribe him to help protect the hotel once again, but General Bizimungu has no intention of returning to Hôtel des Mille Collines; he plans to let the Hutu ravage it while he and his men (along with Paul, whom he invites in return for his gifts) flee to the new headquarters.  But Paul reminds General Bizimungu that he’ll go on trial as a war criminal if he refuses to aid the refugees, ultimately succeeding in winning over the help of the General and his army. (1:43:10)