Directed by Michael Caton-Jones, starring John Hurt, Hugh Dancy, Claire-Hope Ashitey and Dominique Horwitz.
'Shooting Dogs' is based on the terrible events of the Rwandan genocide. Over 100 days from early April 1994 more than 900,000 people were slaughtered, mostly from the country's Tutsi minority, in a government-driven assertion of Hutu supremacy. Despite knowing what was happening - and the presence in the country of UN observers - the world turned away and did nothing to stop the carnage.
This film focuses on the experiences of two - white - men during this turbulent time. John Hurt plays Fr Christopher, a Catholic priest who runs an Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO), or high school, in Kigali where Joe (Dancy), a young British man on his gap year, is teaching. Newly arrived and very idealistic, Joe is enthusiastic and excited about his work with the students. Fr Christopher is an old lag, somewhat disillusioned after a lifetime of work in Africa, but he still has a deep love for the people. There's an air of unrest from an early stage as the school is partially occupied by a Belgian-led peacekeeping force and, when the slaughter starts, all the Tutsis nearby - some 2,000 people - come to the school for protection.
As elsewhere in Rwanda, places such as schools, churches and stadiums that terrified Tutsis believed would be safe havens were turned into places of mass murder. With the slaughter continuing on the street, the school is gradually and ominously surrounded by machete-wielding Hutus. The UN peacekeepers, led by the stressed Capitaine Charles Delon (Horwitz), are forbidden to use their guns - but they do, to Fr Christopher's frustration, make an exception in shooting the dogs that feed on the decomposing bodies of the victims.
Unlike Paul Rusesabagina in 'Hotel Rwanda', there are few heroes here. That film showed how one man could make a difference. 'Shooting Dogs' is an example of how two, despite their best efforts, could not hold back the tide. It is, perhaps, more truthful as a result, even if not as dramatic. Although the most powerful part of 'Shooting Dogs' is the closing credits which show photos of the film crew that survived the genocide, this is an important film and one worth bearing witness to.