A vital document in any understanding of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Shake Hands with the Devil
looks at the disaster through the eyes of a hugely conflicted observer. Romeo Dallaire was the Canadian general commanding the handcuffed U.N. forces in Rwanda (think Nick Nolte in Hotel Rwanda
) who pleaded with his superiors to intervene and possibly stave off the slaughter, and then watched helplessly as the country went to hell. The film follows Dallaire's return to Rwanda in 2004, as he tries to exorcise the demons that have haunted him--he suffered a breakdown and suicidal depression after his service in Africa. Director Peter Raymont also widens the focus to discuss the issues behind the slaughter, and he witheringly condemns the world's failure to act. (The U.S. public was distracted by the O.J. Simpson trial, the movie reminds us.) The images are startling: horrific video of murder, beautiful shots of the present-day countryside, Dallaire's visit to a monument containing tables crowded with human skulls. The images are harsh, but Dallaire's memories are equally terrible, such as his recollection of the smell of corpses stacked in the street. This articulate and still-tortured man is an important guide to a horrific event. --Robert Horton
Based in part on his Governor General's Award winning book of the same title, Shake Hands with the Devil is the searing, emotional journey of Canadian Lt-General Roméo Dallaire, who commanded the U.N. peacekeeping mission to Rwanda in 1994. Over 100 days, 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered during the Rwanda genocide as the international community turned its back and ignored Dallaire's cries for assistance. This experience let to Dallaire's own life tragedies as he dealt with the psychological fallout of witnessing a genocide he was powerless to stop. Filmed during General Dallaire's first return to Rwanda in April, 2004.
*Official Selection, 2004 Toronto International Film Festival
*Official Selection, 2004 IDFA International Documentary Festival
*Official Selection, World Cinema Documentary Competition: 2005 Sundance Film Festival