Shooting Dogs

Rwanda, 1994. The Ecole Technique Officielle in Kigali has been run for ten years by Father Christopher (John Hurt), now passing on his love and knowledge of Africa to Joe Connor (Hugh Dancy), an eager and idealistic if naive young graduate from England. As the Hutu’s deep hatred of the Tutsi gives rise to ever more violent attacks, the school becomes a refuge for Tutsis; but while Joe tells students like Marie (Clare-Hope Ashitey) that the UN troops will keep them safe, international law – or, more accurately, international apathy – prevents the peacekeepers from giving the Rwandans in the beseiged compound proper protection. As Christopher’s faith is tested by the carnage around them and the patent hypocrisy of Hutu politicians, he and Connor face a dilemma: should they stay, or leave with the UN soldiers?

Little matter that we mostly witness events through the eyes of two surrogate white Brits; the film – shot on locations where the catastrophe occured and made with a cast and crew that includes numerous survivors of the genocide – has great conviction, compassion and power. It doesn’t entirely avoid the pitfalls traditional to heroic drama (occasional expository dialogue, the odd tidily convenient climax), but Caton-Jones orchestrates the spiralling violence with considerable dexterity, revealing a keen understanding of how, in the wrong circumstances, human beings can and do inflict the most barbaric cruelties upon one another. Crucially, however, the Hutu are not presented as pantomime villains; nor are the UN troops. Rather, we’re kept aware of an absence: the rest of the world, abandoning the Rwandans to their fate.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday March 31 2006
Duration: 115 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Michael Caton-Jones
Screenwriter: David Wolstencroft
Cast: John Hurt
Claire Hope Ashitey
Hugh Dancy
Dominique Horwitz

Average User Rating

5 / 5

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Rory

One of the most heart rendering and thought provoking films i have ever seen, also brilliant to watch. Read the short article "Civil War, the peace process and Grnocide in Rwanda" by Bruce D.Jones (found in "Civil Wars in Africa: Roots and Resolution", edited by Taiser M. Ali & Robert O. Mathews) for a brilliant insight into the roots of the genocide, knowing a bit of the history makes the film all the more powerful.

Rory

One of the most heart rendering and thought provoking films i have ever seen, also brilliant to watch. Read the short article "Civil War, the peace process and Grnocide in Rwanda" by Bruce D.Jones (found in "Civil Wars in Africa: Roots and Resolution", edited by Taiser M. Ali & Robert O. Mathews) for a brilliant insight into the roots of the genocide, knowing a bit of the history makes the film all the more powerful.