Shake Hands with the Devil

  • J'ai serré la main du diable
Genre : Drama
Type : Fiction
Original title :
Principal country concerned : Column : Cinema/tv

The feature film "Shake Hands with the Devil", based on Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire's award-winning book, is directed by Roger Spottiswoode, and stars the highly-esteemed actor Roy Dupuis as Dallaire. Deborah Kara Unger portrays one of the few journalists who remained in Rwanda after the genocide began.

The cast also includes Jean-Hugues Anglade as Bernard Kouchner, a founder of Médecins Sans Frontières. James Gallanders, Michel Mongeau and Owen Lebakeng Sejake play the courageous officers who stood with Dallaire, and Odile Katesi Gakire plays the Rwandan Prime Minister of the Peace Government. A dramatization from Oscar®-winning Producer Michael Donovan and multiaward- winning Producer Laszlo Barna, SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL was filmed in Rwanda using many of the actual locations described in the book.

SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL is the story of a Canadian commander torn between his duty and his conscience when he finds himself eyewitness to hell on earth. In 1993, the United Nations dispatches Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire to far off Rwanda to oversee a fragile cease-fire. A brilliant, workaholic officer and charismatic commander, Dallaire encounters the shabby - sometimes comically shabby - reality of a typical UN peacekeeping operation: under-funded, overbureaucratic, and cobbled together from military units from dozens of countries, each with a slightly different agenda. Meanwhile the peace agreement between the rebels, led by the minority Tutsi ethnic group, and the French-supported government dominated by the Hutu majority group, turns out to rest on shaky ground. Conciliatory speeches are undercut by mysterious massacres. Just months after Dallaire raises the UN flag, an unknown group shoots down the President's plane. Are the rebels to blame or the Hutu extremists in the President's own party? (To this day, nobody knows.) With the plane crash, the storm breaks and a secret but long-planned genocidal campaign against the Tutsi minority begins with a night of terror in Kigali.

Given neither the authority nor sufficient forces to avert the crisis, Lieutenant- General Dallaire nonetheless does his utmost to stem the bloodshed. As he negotiates with the complex personalities of the Rwandan military men and politicians on both sides to prevent the resurgence of the civil war, he has to confront mounting evidence that a deliberate massacre of the innocent is underway. While trying to take decisive action to stop the genocide, he is undercut by his own far-away superiors - who have their own political interests to protect - and by the studied indifference of the world's great powers. As he learns, to his fury, it seems to be in nobody's'interest' to save almost a million Rwandan lives.

Powerless to prevent the country's descent into hell, Lieutenant-General Dallaire is ordered home. He disobeys. He insists on staying to save those he can from the genocide, while trying to do everything possible to stop it. When the Belgians pull out their contingent, after ten of their soldiers are killed - shades of Mogadishu - he must stand by and watch as his best-equipped troops leave.

When New York cancels the peace mission entirely, he knows his only chance for reinforcement lies with helping the media cover the almost unspeakable truth of what is happening in Rwanda. Promising journalists a story every day if they will stay, Lieutenant-General Dallaire attempts to shame the international community into action.

In the end, he saves some 30,000 people, but 800,000 have died in the span of only a hundred days. What he was able to do seems to him all too little, and he returns to Canada a shattered, haunted man who has lost everything but his sense of his continued mission to remind the world that the tragedy of Rwanda could have been prevented - and that new genocides like the one taking place in Darfur demand effective intervention by the larger world.

SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL is produced by Halifax Film, Barna-Alper Productions and Seville Productions with the participation of Telefilm Canada, The Movie Network, Super Écran, Movie Central, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio-Canada, The Harold Greenberg Fund, Film Finances Canada Limited and Head Gear Films Limited.

Based on Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire's award-winning book
"Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda"

A Film by Roger Spottiswoode
Starring Roy Dupuis

Official Selection Toronto International Film Festival 2007
National theatrical release: September 28, 2007

Roy Dupuis__ General Romeo Dallaire
Deborah Unger__ Emma
James Gallanders__ Major Brent Beardsley
Odile Katesi__ Gakire Agathe
Owen Lebakeng Sejake__ Ghanian General Henry Anyidoho
Michel Mongeau__ Luc Marchal
Jean-Hugues Anglade__ Bernard Kouchner
Tom McCamus__ Phil Lancaster
Remy Nsanga__ Maggen
Michel Ange Nzojibwami__ Colonel Bagosora
John Sibi__ Okumu Booh-Booh
Daniel Janks__ Troute
Craig Hourqueie__ Willem / Robert
Akin Omotoso__ Paul Kagame
John Matchikiza__ Habyarimana
Intore Masamba__ Marcel
Lena Slachmuijlder__ Odette
Alexi Kamanzi__ Jean-Pierre
Chris Torne__ Ambassador Rawson
Patrice Faye__ Colonel Poncet
Stephen Backingam__ British Ambassador

Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Written by Michael Donavan
Editors: Michel Arcand, Louis-Martin Paradis
Production designer: Lindsey Hermer-Bell
Set decorator: Steve Shewchuck
Director of photography: Miroslaw Baszak
Costume designer: Joyce Schure
Casting: Hope Azeda, Christa Schamberger, Murielle LaFerrière, Bonnie Timmermann, Deirdre Bowen
Producers: Laszlo Barna, Michael Donovan
Associate Producers: John Hamilton, Pierre David
Co-executive producers: Phil Hunt, Compton Ross, Sunmin Park
Executive producers: David Reckziegel, Martin Katz, Steven Silver, Neil Tabatznik
Music by David Hitschfelder


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  • Arterial network
  • Media, Sports and Entertainment Group (MSE)
  • Gens de la Caraïbe
  • Groupe 30 Afrique
  • Alliance Française VANUATU
  • Zimbabwe : Culture Fund Of Zimbabwe Trust
  • RDC : Groupe TACCEMS
  • Rwanda : Positive Production
  • Togo : Kadam Kadam
  • Niger : ONG Culture Art Humanité
  • Collectif 2004 Images
  • Africultures Burkina-Faso
  • Bénincultures / Editions Plurielles
  • Africiné
  • Afrilivres

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