In Cinemas March 31

Friday, March 31, 2006


"An undeniably powerful & important piece of work." Jonathan Ross, Film 2005

"A well-crafted, beautifuly acted, powerful picture…a deeply emotional epic…a fine film…John Hurt gives a masterful, Oscar-quality performance as Father Christopher." Chris Tookey, Daily Mail ****

"Stunning." Dave Aldridge, BBC Radio 5 Live

"Superb." Adam Sweeting, Uncut ****

"An extraordinarily powerful film with a great performance from John Hurt...a must see." Baz Bamigboye, Daily Mail.

"Outstanding...You must see this film." Henry Fitzherbert, Sunday Express *****

"Great conviction, compassion & power." Geoff Andrew, Time Out ****

"The restrained, quietly devastating SHOOTING DOGS is the reason you want to become a film-maker in the first place. An intelligent, unflinching human picture that generally avoids the twin traps of sentimentality and melodrama, this is a highly commendable drama with a performance of immense compassion from John Hurt." Allan Hunter, Daily Express ****

"Shooting Dogs is in many ways a fine piece of work, well shot and directed with some honesty…there is no denying the awful truth of what it says, the strong performance from Hurt and the commendable way in which Caton-Jones marshals his cinematic forces." Derek Malcolm, Evening Standard ****

"The second film dealing with the Rwandan genocide to get a UK release, Shooting Dogs is a much harder watch than the Oscar-nominated Hotel Rwanda. It's also, in many ways, far superior…a finely nuanced screenplay, subtle performances and a gritty authenticity…Unapologetically grim, but remarkable and moving nevertheless" Ian Winterton, Hotdog ****

"Thoughtful and necessarily shocking." The Irish Times ****

"In a world inured to the pasteurised versions of Hollywood stories, occasionally we see something that is still raw enough to shake us, to move us, to make us feel. Shooting Dogs is just such a film…Moments in this film will stay with you for a unsettling, incredible experience." Psychologies Magazine *****

"…promises to be one of the most talked about movies of 2006…an emotionally draining film…a hard-hitting film…Heatrtbreaking and brilliant." Mark Eccleston, Glamour *****

"The third fiction film about the Rwandan tragedy in less than a year, Shooting Dogs is the most straightforward and thus the most powerful. Hugh Dancy is excellent...John Hurt is superb." Nick Roddick, Evening Standard.

"In many respects a more stylish, authentic, tougher-minded film than HOTEL RWANDA... respectable and well- intentioned" Variety.

"A shoestring heartstopper…the best film of Caton-Jones' career…one of the best political films of the year. It's a tougher and more mature film than the Oscar-nominated HOTEL RWANDA" Kevin Maher, The Times (Knowledge)

"2006's most powerful film" Harpers & Queen

"...piercingly heartfelt and memorable." Anthony Quinn, The Independent.

"The film left me feeling shattered. It was so real, I felt I was right back there in the middle of the madness. The film is the most powerful portrayal of that terrible time. What happened in Rwanda wasn't just about Rwanda - it was about all of us. The film brilliantly captures that central truth. A Brilliant and Powerful film." Fergal Keane, BBC Newsnight

"A film of some magnitude, packed with moving and sensitive performances… Dancy's performance is gripping… Rarely have I seen a film this devastating. While it's never pleasant viewing, it's a film I implore you to make sure you see. Absolutely and unequivocally, you must see Shooting Dogs." Jeremy Allen, PlayLouder.Com

"Shooting Dogs is an astonishing and important film which everyone should go see; not only to learn about what happened in Rwanda, but to also appreciate a well-crafted, well-acted movie that examines the difficult decisions people are forced to make in extreme situations. I challenge you not to be affected by its power." Sara MacDonnell, Music OMH Online *****

"A gripping tale." Anwar Brett, Film Review ****

"The thunderous applause at the end of the London Film Festival screening of Shooting Dogs, mixed with the sounds of people still attempting to sniff back their tears, sums up the experience of the film better than any words could...Shooting Dogs is definitely worth seeing...This film portrays the events in an emotional, realistic way, and does not flinch from showing the callous and indifferent attitude of the rest of the world. It brings the story to life and makes all of us question what we would do if faced with similar circumstances...Don't miss this poignant portrayal of the Rwanda genocide. It's a moving story that will stay with you and force you to consider some uncomfortable but necessary questions." Laura Horwitz, 6 Degrees Film Online.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

UK Charity Premiere of Shooting Dogs

The Curzon Cinema Mayfair in Central London will tonight host the UK Premiere of Shooting Dogs.

This charity evening will be held in conjunction with AEGIS, One-to-One, Streets Ahead Children's Centre (Rwanda) and Rwanda Aid. A proportion of tickets for the Premiere have been allocated to these charities to help raise money for Rwanda and its people.

All the cast and crew will be in attendence along with a host of celebrities including Annie Lennox, Nick Broomfield and Siobhan Hewlitt.
Come down and show your support.


Rwanda‘s President Paul Kagame endorses SHOOTING DOGS:

"The film as such is going to be a continued part of our memory relating to the genocide and I think that memory needs to be kept" President Kagame

A report by Arthur Asiimwe (Ely Times & County: Land of the Trees Local News Leader)

A new film on Rwanda‘s genocide reduced many survivors to tears at its premiere in Kigali but President Paul Kagame said on Tuesday the movie would help to ensure memories of the mass murder were kept alive.

Survivor Claudine Nyirumwiza emerged from watching the film on Monday night with tears rolling down her face.

"I hate a machete. I hate seeing a machete anywhere because it reminds me the pain of slow death that my close relatives went through," she said.

Her two brothers, sister and father were among 800,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus shot, hacked and beaten to death by extremist Hutu militias in 1994.

Despite a heavy downpour, the premiere of "Shooting Dogs" drew some 1,500 people to Kigali‘s Amahoro stadium, where thousands sought refuge during the 100 days of killing.

The film‘s title refers to the way UN troops shot dogs eating the corpses that littered the streets of the Rwandan capital.

A genocide survivor group has accused the film-makers of causing fresh trauma to many survivors who worked as extras.

But Kagame defended the film, one of several recent accounts of the bloodletting.

"The film as such is going to be a continued part of our memory relating to the genocide and I think that memory needs to be kept," he told reporters.

Shot in Rwanda and starring British actors John Hurt and Hugh Dancy, the film depicts the story of a Roman Catholic priest and a teacher caught up in the genocide.

Kagame said it was the events of 1994 that caused pain, not films about them.

"If it is a film built on what happened here in 1994 naturally it recreates the scenes that affect people," he said.

"I think it is not the film that traumatizes them but it‘s what happened to them."

The film portrays the massacre at Kigali‘s Ecole Technique Officielle, run by priests and home to Belgian U.N. troops.

At least 2,500 Tutsis took refuge there during the initial days of the genocide. But when UN soldiers pulled out, Hutu Interahamwe militias quickly overran the school and within hours most of the men, women and children were dead.

"The film should be a reminder of the mistakes made in our history by Rwandans but also by international community because they had a responsibility one way or another in which they failed," Kagame said.

Thank You

We want to say a big thank you to all those that have been following and contributing to this blog. We are delighted with the array of interesting discussions that have featured on the site and we hope the information on the site has been of interest.

With the film released in the UK tomorrow, we want to try and maximise awareness of the film and the issues that it raises. We hope you will help us in ensuring that as many people as possible see this hugely important film. If you could copy the embedded image below onto an email and forward it to your contacts, it would be hugely appreciated. Thanks again for your support. Keep checking the blog, there's a lot more to come!

INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION: A note from producer Pippa Cross

Dear all, especially all the international bloggers.

It has been wonderful to watch the response to the film and to the issues on the blog, and in particular to watch the map of the world alight with people who care enough about what happened in Rwanda in 1994 to engage with our film and its message. It is a big moment for the film in the UK - it opens in cinemas on Friday, mostly in the major cities to start with, but soon to follow elsehwere.

But it is also part of our job to ensure that the many enthusiastic distributors worldwide, who have licensed the film to play in their territories, receive as much support from us as we can offer, and we are in touch with many of them regarding promotion, materials and of course connecting them with the worldwide audience now using this blog. Post specific requests and we will try to answer them

The film will eventually be seen in nearly every country in the world. Which is really important to us as it sends a strong message to Rwanda that we can all share in their pain and in their progress forwards.

We still need to secure a distributor in the United States and will be pushing hard on that one in the coming months, so keep the lobbying going please!

On a less global note, this film is hitting cinemas just as the UK Film Council's new digital network starts to come truly on line - I had the pleasure of watching Shooting Dogs at the Hawkhurst Kino last week, projected digitally, and it was a really good 'cinematic' experience, and a full house. Make sure you clamour to get it programmed at any new digital venue near you please

Pippa Cross

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Shooting Dogs and The National Theatre



A chilling thriller in which no-one is quite what they seem.

1994. When a struggling American academic and his family arrive in beautiful, tiny Rwanda they find themselves out of their depth.

Jack makes enemies by investigating a mysterious and unsolved disappearance. His teenage son hits Kigali’s nightclubs and his ambitious new wife goes on a sightseeing trip that not even her Detroit childhood has prepared her for.

A gripping story of a country on the brink of genocide.

SPECIAL OFFER £5 off top two prices on 9 May (£20 £15) and £5 off top price tickets 10 – 13 May (£28).

Call 020 7452 3000 and quote ‘SHOOTING DOGS OFFER’ when booking. South Bank, London, SE1 9PX

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Shooting Dogs World Premiere

Last night the World Premiere of Shooting Dogs took place in a stadium in Kigali to 1,500 guests.

In attendance was the Culture Minister Habineza Joseph and many families who survived the genocide.

"The film-making was a most rewarding experience for the thousands of Rwandans who participated," said Mr Habineza.

"The story that is told in the film is an important contribution to this country's recent history and I believe can help in the process of reconciliation that we have been building in Rwanda for more than a decade," he added.

The UK Premiere will take place on Thursday night and the film opens nationwide on Friday.

Yesterday's streaming of The Roadblock Scene has proved very popular so we've decided to keep the link up until tomorrow.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Shooting Dogs is released this coming Friday with the premiere taking place tonight in Kigali - Rwanda.

Last week we looked at the roadblock scene and as promised, you can now see the scene here on the blog!

To access the scene, click on the link below. If you'd like to know more about the scene itself, browse through last weeks entries to see breakdowns of the scene including stills, camera setups and cast and crew thoughts.

-keep your views coming
*this link will be taken down at 2.00pm GMT tomorrow

Friday, March 24, 2006

Roadblock Scene: streaming on Monday

All this week we have been breaking down a single scene from Shooting Dogs; ‘The roadblock scene’. We have heard from the cast and crew, seen the script, read the producer’s comments and the director’s notes and camera plots.

The scene itself will be shown on this site on Monday.

The clip is split into two sections showing the van carrying Joe being stopped at the roadblock and then the interrogation of it's occupants by the Interahamwe.

The scene will be available for you to view for 24hours.

The Roadblock Scene : Diary Entry from Paul Morris, 2nd Assistant Director

The road blocks were difficult for several reasons.

They were obviously shot in open, public places which needed to be carefully controlled in order to avoid alarming the locals for many of whom the events of 1994 are a recent and terrifying memory. We were painfully aware of the potential dangers of reawakening the nightmares which many of these folk had lived through.

Another challenge was to recruit and rehearse the 'Interahamwe' and the 'victims'. Clearly we had a responsibility to keep the atmosphere around the set as light and good natured as possible and, with the certain knowledge that many of those playing the Tutsi victims were re-enacting their real-life traumas of 1994, we took that responsibility very seriously indeed...

On the whole it was remarkable how all the locals applied themselves to the task and it became clear that there was a very real will to work together for the common good. Our film seemed to be perceived locally as an opportunity to remind the world of their tragic story and I am quite sure that this was why we received so much help and co-operation across the board from the survivors association to the Rwandan armed forces. It has to be said that, without their help and participation, the film probably wouldn't have been possible.

Without doubt, working on Shooting Dogs was an incredible and humbling experience and I remain immensely grateful for the opportunity.

Paul Morris - 2nd Assistant Director

The Roadblock Scene : Diary Entry from actor Hugh Dancy

One thing that MCJ and I discussed a lot while filming Shooting Dogs was the way in which the film's descent into horror and chaos is a very gradual one, one that is often suggested rather than shown, and therefore - since of course we were filming completely out of sequence - how careful we had to be during the shoot in judging the tone of each scene, even though in and of themselves they might be relatively inconsequential. In fact, rather than any particular moment of drama, the subtle developement in tone itself often seemed to be the point of a scene (along with smuggling in a few important historical facts about Rwanda to assist the audience's understanding). And since Joe is in many ways a conduit for the audience's response, I found myself marking out his own emotional journey in a similarly incremental way, charting what I hoped would be a delicate progression from innocence into naievety and ultimately into a kind of denial.

But the roadblock sequence is an exception. Joe - and the audience - brutally smash into the reality of what is happening on the streets of Rwanda outside the confines of the ETO and of his entrenched optimism, and so the two days we spent shooting it stand out in my mind. It felt different at the time (not least because of the heat trap that built up in the small valley we filmed in, and even a mini-tornado that ripped up the courtyard where we were eating lunch. I couldn't quite understand the level of hilarity that this caused until I saw Sande, one of the most charming and louche members of the crew, emerge sheepishly from under the table where he had flung himself).

However for all the unaccustomed violence of the scene, one image stands out in my mind - the silent look that Kennedy gave me. Kennedy played the Tutsi who is kneeling by the side of the road when we arrive and are forced to our knees, and although his subsequent death is one of the most shocking moments of the film, for me the look that him and Joe share resonates further. It is not pleading, not accepting, not despairing, not even quite fearful, and the way that it escapes or surpasses definition encapsulates the horror of the genocide that utterly defies our attempts to sum it up or pin it down. An amazing piece of acting I suppose, but I think more than that. I don't know Kennedy's own story, but for me that moment - along with other visceral moments in the scene, not least from actors playing militia members - is the most powerful demonstration of why we couldn't have made this film anywhere but in Rwanda, with Rwandans.

As a coda it is worth mentioning that Kennedy is the father of the boy who played one of Joe's pupils, and so between takes we stood happily discussing his son while other actors from the roadblock horsed around with the crew, posing for photos as Michael's 'bodyguard'. Joseph, the muscular militia member who throws me to the ground and thrusts a rifle in my face, eagerly encouraged me to visit the club where he worked as a bouncer. In a way these incongruities are the same as one finds on most filmsets - Guy Fawkes doing the crossword in the corner while someone touches up his wig etc etc - but the utter extremes of joy and tragedy, of people so warmly allowing us access to the most terrible period of their history, best represent what made our time working on this movie the most humbling, at times heartbreaking but ultimately rewarding experience of my life. Hugh Dancy

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Roadblock Scene : The Script

Below are pages from the original SHOOTING DOGS script. These pages refer to the roadblock scene that we will streaming on this site soon.

Click on each page enlarge. (NOTE: You may need to enlarge the image further once you have clicked through to it.)

The Roadblock Scene : Director's Notes, Shooting Set-Ups & Final Shots.

Scene 80 - Description
The school truck carries Joe and two TV journalists through the deserted Kigali streets towards the ETO. They are stopped at a roadblock, which is manned by Interahamwe militia, and the terrifying lawlessness of the genocide becomes apparent.

The Directors View
As a director, the first thing you need to do is figure out what it is you are trying to say with a scene. This does not mean dialogue. In its simplest form, every scene is a part of a larger story and it has to play its part in the furthering of that story. ALL scenes must fulfill that primary function with no exceptions.
In scene 80 there were 2 main aspects for me to consider: Character needs and story needs

A. One thread in the larger story was the emotional journey of Joe (Hugh Dancy) from wide-eyed idealist to guilt-ridden survivor. This scene was important in regard to his character because it marked the point in his journey that he crossed over into territory that was beyond his, or indeed anyone else’s, experience and comprehension.

B. This was a significant scene in terms of the audience’s knowledge of what was happening outside the confines of the ETO compound. The contrast had to be made between the atmosphere on the streets and the relative safety of the school. It was important to convey three things:

The idea that danger was omnipresent.
The casual and sudden unpredictability of violence.
To give that danger a face (as the Interahamwe turn up at ETO immediately after this)
Once you have decided what you want to say the next stage is working out HOW these ideas take physical form.

Shooting Sketches
Below are Michael Caton-Jones' sketches for the roadblock scene. (Click each image to enlarge.) These sketches provide details of the camera set-up for the sequence as well as individual descriptions for each shot.
Sketch No.1 : Overview
In this sketch, Michael constructs a general overview of the structure of the roadblock scene. He has deconstructed the scene into 5 distinct sequences of action, Parts A-E. The diagram in the bottom-left corner fo the sketch describes the general movement of the characters within the scene.

Sketch No.2 : Parts A & B

This sketch provides more detail about the individual shots that will make up Part A (the travelling of the truck along the dirt track) & Part B (the stopping of the truck where Joe and his fellow passengers are yanked out of the truck by the interahamwe).

Each shot is listed in the column on the right-hand side whilst the diagrams on the left describe the movement of the characters along with the positioning and direction of the cameras.

By clicking on the link below, you can see how the final shots of each sequence came out.

Images form Part A
Images from Part B

Sketch No.3 : Parts C & D/E

This sketch provides a breakdown of each of the shots that will make up Part C (where tensions rise between Joe, Rachel, Mark and the interahamwe and where Joe witnesses a Tutsi murder at the roadside), and Part D/E (where Joe recognises one of the interahamwe and where Joe, Mark & Rachel eventually escape the situation.)

Again, each shot is numbered in the columns, and the movement of the characters and positioning/direction of the cameras is depicted in the diagrams.

Click on the links below to see how the final shots came out.

Images from Part C
Images from Part D/E

Tomorrow we will be posting comments from other cast & crew members about their personal experiences on shooting this particular scene.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Director's thoughts.

Michael Caton-Jones on Shooting Dogs.

It was the sound that got me. Some sounds are so visceral they transcend words. You feel them in your stomach. We had been standing, my crew and I, as the sun dappled through the trees on to red-dirt African schoolyard, about to make our first shot of the day. We all stopped working as a minibus bounced noisily out the gates. It was full of teenage schoolgirls screeching and yelling. In any other place that would have been unremarkable, the heady chemical mixture of age and innocence on a school outing.

But here, in Rwanda, it was not a benign noise. The screams were not ones of youthful delight. This sound was terror. The hysterical reliving of personal horrors. A half-dozen private hells being given human voice. And I had been partially responsible.

The previous evening we had filmed a group of extras parading noisily as the notorious, machete-wielding Interahamwe militia. We were always careful to keep these scenes hidden from the public for fear of causing undue distress. We had made the shots, packed up and gone home. However, a nearby dormitory of students heard the chanting and whistling and it had triggered a series of panicked flashbacks among them. Twelve hours later they were still in trauma, and the minibus was taking them to be hospitalised. It was then that I really understood the seriousness and responsibility of what I was doing.

I was in Rwanda to film Shooting Dogs, an account of what happened at the Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO) during the first five days of what became known as the Rwandan genocide.

When you tell people you were in Rwanda, you often see a look of hazy recognition in their eyes. They know something horrific occurred there, but the details tend to be vague. For many, the word Rwanda has become a simplistic symbol for Darkest Africa, home of the bestial and barbaric. In representing a specifically Third World madness, it neatly fuses lazy racial preconceptions with a frighteningly widespread First World ignorance. It was something "they" did to each other, over "there".

Of course, it didn't stop those looks of hazy recognition from taking on a vicarious glint. So, what was it like? Was it safe? What did you see? (Subtext: tell me about the machetes.) I was probably like that myself before I went there.

On the night of 6 April 1994, persons unknown shot down Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana's plane. He was a Hutu. His killing was the catalyst of a civil war, as furious Hutu extremists in the military and police force took control of the government and sent death squads into the streets. State radio branded the minority Tutsi as the enemy and urged loyal Hutu citizens, the majority, to do their duty and defend the country against this "enemy within". In effect, to kill them all.

The outside world knew what was happening and chose to do nothing as Rwanda turned into a living hell. Almost a million people were hunted down and slaughtered in three months.

What happened at the ETO is sometimes referred to as Rwanda's Srebrenica. For five days, the sprawling campus in a suburb of Kigali became a sanctuary of sorts for about 2,500 Rwandans, mostly Tutsis but also some moderate Hutu and Western expatriates. They came to escape the lawlessness and violence that was everywhere, and for protection from the Belgian United Nations troops billeted there. The school quickly became surrounded by squads of the murderous Interahamwe.

What happened next was as shameful as it was symbolic. French troops arrived to evacuate only white expatriates. No Rwandans, no exceptions. Immediately after this was accomplished, the UN contingent abandoned the compound, leaving the terrified men, women and children to a certain death. Most were killed within hours of the UN leaving.

I initially went to Rwanda in 2004 to see if it was feasible to make this film there. I don't know what I expected to find, but whatever I expected, it wasn't what I got.

Physically, the Land of a Thousand Hills is a quite beautiful country, lush verdant green during the rainy season and parched dusty red when dry. It isn't what I would imagine a typically African landscape. No wild, wide plains full of animals here, just hills. Many of those thousand hills are terraced, planted with crops, cultivated and tended. It was testimony, both to overpopulation and extreme poverty, that it looked so agricultural, more Tuscany than The Lion King. It did, however, explain the ubiquitousness of the machete.

In Kigali, the boisterous capital, * * developed and undeveloped world co-exist. I could get a broadband connection in the hotel but would sit in darkness on my balcony and watch as the daily power cuts blacked out hillsides all around.

The Rwandese like to dress smartly and many people carry mobile phones, but many more are in bare feet and ragged T-shirts, carrying yellow plastic containers to get water from communal taps because they have none at home.

They like their football and are very clued-up about the English football leagues and their players. I often spotted obscure club shirts on children in the streets ("Oh Irony, Thy Name Is Sheffield United. Nickname: The Blades!"). The shirts were all in the fashions of a few years ago because they had arrived by way of aid packages, the discards of a more affluent world elsewhere.

All in all, though, my initial impression was of a functioning country, vibrant and peaceful and, apart from the parliament building, still pock-marked by shells, showing few physical signs of the war.

It's when you begin talking to people that you realise the scars are all psychological. They are hidden, but they're everywhere. Once you understand that, you encounter the all-encompassing horror of genocide. It's estimated that 94 per cent of the entire population witnessed some kind of extreme violence during the genocide.

The Rwandans are a reserved people, not given much to histrionic outward displays of emotion. People continually used "the war" as a reference point in their conversation: "before the war" "during the war" and "after the war". It was as if by placing their experiences into one of those three phrases the whole emotional geography of their situation could be instantly understood. Life was innocent, or it was terrifying, or it was grief stricken. There was nothing more to say because everyone understood.

Realising that many of the shy smiles on display were a mask, to disguise some unutterable private devastation they were bound to carry around for ever, only increased this sense of melancholy and sadness.

Talking to survivors (and almost the entire country is a survivor) there was often a complete lack of emotion in their stories, just an unaffected retelling - the unimaginable terror and suffering, the horrific loss, the emptiness and guilt of their survival all told in an open, unsensational way. I would often be asked: "Why did no one do anything to help? Did no one care?" Of course I had no answer except: "We didn't know," which sounded marginally less offensive than: "We didn't care." They then say: "You must tell the world what happened here, this must never happen again." The simplicity of expression and the lack of manipulation had a deep effect on me. It became a key to how this story should be told. Just tell it. Honestly.

I knew there was no film-making infrastructure in Rwanda and that it could quite possibly be a very miserable experience all round - but, for fuck's sake, it was their story. How could it not be made there? I decided that, however difficult, we had to film in Rwanda; we had to shoot at the ETO. And we had to make the film with survivors of the genocide. They had to be allowed to tell their story.

Now, I sincerely believe that the real films about what happened in Rwanda will only be made when the Rwandans can make them for and about themselves, but at the moment, that ability didn't exist. In the meantime, though, Shooting Dogs could partially redress the persistent Western ignorance on the subject.

A film creates a sizeable financial knock-on effect anywhere it's made, injecting money that normally wouldn't be there into the local economy. Naturally, in a country as poor as Rwanda, this created a frenzied desire for jobs. A day's work as an extra paid US$16 (about £9), a vast sum, and there were often huge crowds every dawn as people looked for employment. We couldn't hire them all, of course, but, more worryingly, it was also likely that we'd be hiring people who had taken a part in the killings in 1994. I may not know who they were, but others certainly would and this could cause any degree of tension.

For all practical purposes a film set is not a democracy; at best, it's a benign dictatorship. To that end, I made a policy decision early on that there would be no differentiation among employees by way of race, nationality, ethnicity or gender.

The experienced would train the inexperienced; the local would look after the foreigner; Rwandese, German, Belgian, Ugandan, European, Tutsi, Hutu, even the English, were all just crew members. We weren't being saintly, just practical; we had to integrate people into one unit for the duration. Of course it would be naive to think this solved every difference, but not wanting to lose the financial benefits of working on the film helped to keep any resentments at a distance.

Words take on a different meaning to the people who've actually lived them. Imagine that you're terrified. Imagine that you think you are going to be killed. Imagine you are watching your mother being macheted. Imagine saying goodbye to your children before they die. Imagine watching UN soldiers save the dogs of white people but refuse to help Rwandese. Most of my cast and crew endured all this and tragically much more. Yet still they thought it important to recreate these scenes as faithfully and accurately as possible, so that we could "tell the world what happened there".

I spent more than five months there; it was some of the most exhilarating, exasperating, humbling, life-affirming time I have spent on the planet.

One night I was sitting around with an elderly Rwandan. We were sipping cold Mutzig beer and eating spicy goat brochette. He was educated and multilingual - and he had lost a child and a limb in what he called "the war". He spoke without rancour, but his voice dropped and he became barely audible as he recalled what happened to him at the Ecole Technique Officielle.

I asked him how he felt about the West or the United Nations now. He said he had been angry, very angry, for a long time, but that he had eventually reached a realisation. He quoted George Orwell's Animal Farm: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. I think that Rwandans were the wrong animals."

Recently, at a screening for Shooting Dogs in a plush London theatre, I was asked a question by a rather smug film-industry type: why make another film with white men in Africa? Wasn't it really just more exploitation?

Poor old fucking Africa.

Black first, human second.

Hair-splitting like that was why no one did anything about the genocide in the first place. Of course, his was a notion born of a privileged ignorance, a politically correct nicety so hollow and irrelevant to the Rwandan reality that I cringed for them in absentia.

I wanted to tell him that he had missed the point. Spectacularly so. I wanted to tell him about the survivors' stories I'd heard, about the gut-wrenching wailing of the traumatised schoolgirls, about how Rwandans just happened to be the "wrong animals". But I couldn't. In the end I could only say: "Because the Rwandans already know what happened. You don't."

-Michael Caton-Jones

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

EXCLUSIVE Shooting Dogs scene preview this week.

At the end of this week, we will be streaming a scene from Shooting Dogs on the blog.

The specific scene that has been selected comes at a pivotal moment in the film where Joe (Hugh Dancy) encounters the Interahamwe militia at a roadblock. Director Michael Caton-Jones carefully constructs the scene to augment the tension and impact of this compelling scene.

In the run-up to the exclusive streaming, we will be deconstructing the scene itself and looking at its specific directorial elements in more detail.

We will be posting diary entries from the film's cast and crew that talk of their individual experiences of shooting this highly sensitive scene. Extracts from the original script, Michael Caton-Jones' sketches of the filming process and on-set photos will also be posted in the run-up to the streaming of the clip.

Make sure you keep checking back to see when we will be showing the clip.

To begin, here is Producer David Belton’s diary entry from shooting that day:

August 10th 2004

We’re filming outside the school in a district of Kigali. It’s the roadblock scene where Joe and the BBC reporter, Rachel and her cameraman, Mark, are pulled out of the school truck and held at gunpoint. It was always a vital scene for me and certainly for David Wolstencroft, our screenwriter. It is here, mid way through the drama that Joe has to confront the reality of what is happening in Rwanda – that there are events going on that are far beyond his control. It’s a moment that many people I know have faced – when all the moral and emotional compass points go awry and we are left floundering, not knowing which way to turn and, crucially, not knowing what will happen.

To me it was always important because it neatly skewered the western arrogance that exists: that somehow we in the West can provide solutions and that our method of fixing things always works. The reality is different and in 2006 we see it every day as we read in our newspapers about Iraq, Darfur, Iran and Afghanistan.

It’s a personal story too since the roadblock happened to me back in 1994. We were pulled out of our car and held at gunpoint and, helpless, we watched a man being dragged away and butchered.

David Wolstencroft is a natural and very gifted writer. Action flows off his pen – or his keyboard - and he has written a scene that is fluid, that builds and never shows off the cleverness of writing a scene like this without resorting to melodrama or glamorising it. Most important, it feels true.

And I sense that Michael Caton-Jones has been looking forward to this scene. As we stand and gather at the beginning of the day there is a spring in MC-J’s step. It’s almost as though this is a chance to show us all why he’s doing this film – how he can extract the absolute maximum from a scene. We are a small budget feature and Michael, often used to bigger spends, has had to hold back on many occasions from where his natural instincts would want to take him. Not today. Today, he’s really up for it – ready to show what he can get out of a single scene.
And sure enough it becomes clear that Michael will shoot more “slates” (effectively different angles and “takes”) than any single scene up to this point in the shoot. He cajoles the cast into some great performances. Hugh is brilliant – allowing himself to be thrown around by the militia as they pull him out of the car – a look of increasing bewilderment and fear etched across his face, take after take, hour after hour. Nicola is a stunning actress, always holding something back in her performance, utterly believable and brilliantly playing against the tiresome movie cliché of a macho journalist – she’s playing it scared-but-trying-to-be-in-control which is at it should be. And Jack surpasses himself as he and a Rwandan actor struggle over the camera – it becomes more and more improvisational, more and more believable, a series of electrifying takes. Kennedy, our Tutsi victim, is equally believable, on his knees, quietly trembling. His performance drives home the terrible reality of 1994.

The other Rwandans excel themselves – several of the cast submerge themselves into their parts as interahamwe killers and yet as soon as the take is over they rush over to Hugh or Nicola and check they haven’t been too rough on them. It’s endearing and funny and as the sun creeps round the valley and Michael relentlessly pursues the scene until he is sure he has got all that he wants, there is a real energy and passion from all the cast and crew. A day when the story and the all the people involved in it become so focussed that the movements, the direction and the performances seem to flow. Even the first assistant director, Mark, seems more relaxed today. It’s been a very tough job for Mark – with limited resources he has galvanised the crew and the extras and given Michael many options to keep this film cinematic – to never let it disappear into smallness. But today the only worry he seems to have is getting the scene finished on time. I think – as we all do – that we won’t get it all today, that we’ll be back tomorrow. But that’s fine. More important than finishing the scene is giving Michael everything he needs to put together a fundamental moment in the film. It’s a morale boost for the film – a pivotal moment in the shoot and worth overrunning for.

But it’s also a tough day for lots of us. Somehow, typically, it’s hotter than usual and our extras are bravely working in the heat of the day – as interahamwe pacing around the roadblock or as bodies lying on the dirt road. We rush around with umbrellas and cups of water – I seem to spend a lot of time ordering more 10 litre kegs of water to keep our extras hydrated. But they never complain despite the harrowing nature of the scene. I watch the first take of Kennedy’s death and then decide I don’t need to see this any more. Too many memories. I go for a walk.

In the distance, over in the fields is a small group of boys, playing football but with half an eye on what the film crew is up to. I sit down and watch them and after a while we get chatting. I tell them in my awful French what we are doing. One of the boys, Laurent, tells me he is fourteen and that one day he wants to be a doctor. We talk about school and how crap it is doing homework. He wears an old tattered shirt and a pair of shorts that, I would guess, were worn by his three older brothers before him. He is funny and very bright. I think about President Kagame’s desire to see children like Laurent succeed – that Rwanda’s future can only be safeguarded by education.

Laurent asks me if he can be an extra in the film. I tell him he has to turn up at half past five in the morning and hand a note I’ll write for him to Hope the casting director. It’s good money for his family – twelve thousand Rwandan francs – twenty dollars, more than a weekly manual wage in Kigali. I hand him the note and tell him he had better not come on a school day. He frowns at me disapprovingly. Of course not, he says. The boys rush off with their filthy old football and I wander back to the set.

-David Belton (Producer)

Monday, March 20, 2006


It is now less than 2 weeks until SHOOTING DOGS goes on general release at cinemas across the UK. Please find below the list of sites confirmed so far. You can click through to book tickets for any of the cinemas listed. This list will be updated as more sites are confirmed.

Curzon Soho, London
Cineworld Shaftesbury Avenue, London
Screen on the Green, London
Barbican, London
Cineworld West India Quay, London
Picturehouse Greenwich, London
Ritzy Brixton, London
Cineworld Chelsea, London
The Coronet Notting Hill, London
VUE Shepherd's Bush, London
The Tricycle, London
Phoenix East Finchley, London
Cornerhouse, Manchester
Edinburgh Filmhouse, Edinburgh
Cineworld Glasgow Renfrew Street, Glasgow
Screen D'Olier Street
IMC Dun Laorie
Omniplex Mahon Cork
Cineworld Dublin

Odeon Mezzanine, Leicester Square
Curzon Mayfair
Cineworld Cardiff
Cineworld Sheffield
Broadway Nottingham
Cineworld Birmingham
Tyneside Newcastle
City Screen York
Showroom Sheffield

Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge
Peckham Plex
Bradford Pictureville
Cineworld Crawley
Picturehouse at FACT Liverpool
The Belmont Aberdeen

Southampton Harbour Lights
Watermans, Brentford
Warwick Arts, Coventry
Chapter, Cardiff
MAC, Birmingham
Sevenoaks Playhouse
Phoenix Oxford

May 5
Watershed Bristol
Orpheus, Bristol
Ipswich Film Theatre
New Park Chichester
Plymouth Arts Centre

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Statement from Kate Allen, UK Director of Amnesty International + Fantastic photos from the event.

“Shooting Dogs is a hugely powerful and truly moving depiction of one of the most shocking events of the twentieth century...Michael Caton-Jones’ film magnificently brings one of recent history’s darkest
chapters to life and it does so with great humanity and insight...While never flinching from the true horror of the genocide, Shooting Dogs nevertheless succeeds in creating a brilliantly compelling drama...The Rwandan genocide shocked the world in 1994 but is now in danger of being forgotten by the international community...This important film helps to ensure that we do not forget.”
Kate Allen, UK Director of Amnesty International


With just over two weeks until Shooting Dogs is released in the Cinemas, I thought it would be a great time to add some new photos to the album.

The Shooting Dogs Photo Album contains production stills and also behind the scenes photographs.

Click here to see the full album.


Marie (Clare Hope-Ashitey)

Shooting Dogs

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Archbishop of Birmingham sees Shooting Dogs

Below is a letter from Vincent Nichols (Archbishop of Birmingham)

Thank you very much indeed for your letter of the 22 February and for sending me a review copy of the BBC film Shooting Dogs.

I would like to express my appreciation of the film and to say how very moving I found it. It has clearly been made with great sensitivity, indeed affection, for all those caught up in the tragedy at the Ecole Technique Officielle. The film portrays the dilemmas faced by many people with perceptiveness and respect. I was particularly appreciative of the fact that if anything the film understates not only horrendous nature of what occurred, but also the human dilemmas. In this it leaves space for the viewers own imagination and reflection.

I was particularly impressed by the way the characters of Father Christopher and the young English teacher were drawn. The crises that they faced were not minimised nor over dramatised. I think everyone who sees this film will always retain a vivid memory of the terrible events that took place. They will also be drawn into a profound reflection on the limitations of human nature as well as the demanding summons of the Christian faith.

I am grateful to have had a chance to see this film and I look forward to its general release from the 31st March.

With every good wish,

Yours sincerely

Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Birmingham

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Diary Seven:

26th July 2004

Few words for this. I’m lying on my bed, utterly shattered. Today was Day One of the filming. As I watched Mickey Reeves, the gaffer and his team of British and Rwandan electricians running cables, Rolf and Miriam fussing over the camera with Ivan, our Director of Photography, Michael pacing around, pulling on a cigarette, Hope rehearsing with the children at the edge of the athletics track, Sarah tweaking at Hugh’s make-up, Bertrand, our German production designer comes up to me. He puts an arm round my shoulder. “You see, it happens.” It seems, at that moment, inconceivable that we really are here making Shooting Dogs. But we are. Now I know why people do a “Gwynneth Paltrow” and cry when collecting film awards – it’s because the process of getting a film made is so damn hard, so draining that in the end, when it actually happens, there’s not much else you can do.

-David Belton (Producer)

Producers David Belton and Pippa Cross

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Next Sunday's Charity Screening

Pre-Release Charity Screening in association with The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.

Sunday 19th March, 1pm, The Tricycle Cinema, London.

Tickets include Q&A with 2006 BAFTA nominee, producer DAVID BELTON.

Tickets from £20 including pre-performance drink.
All funds raised go to The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.

For Ticket Information, please contact Carla Cornwell:
Tel: 0207 697 7755
Charity Rg.No. 1000340

Friday, March 10, 2006


SHOOTING DOGS screened to another full-house last night. This time at The Amnesty International UK Headquarters in London. The Director of Amnesty UK Kate Allen introduced the film and then joined the distinguished panel members for the question & answer session that followed the screening. SHOOTING DOGS director Michael Caton-Jones was joined by cast members John Hurt (Father Christopher) and Clare Hope Ashitey (Marie) to discuss the genocide and their experiences shooting the film in Rwanda.

It was an emotionally charged screening that left the audience stunned. The audience were moved to question the underlying motivations of the genocide, as well to discuss the experiences of the panel on making the film.

John Hurt remained philosophical, saying "There are no good people, there are no bad people. What happened in Rwanda isn't reserved for one specific element of humanity. We're all capable of terrible things. Hopefully this film will help make us all aware."

Michael Caton Jones described making the film as "a truly humbling experience".

The Q & A overran with many people talking to the director personally afterwards to try make sense of what they had seen.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Below are comments on SHOOTING DOGS from the panel members at The Doughty Street Chambers screening last Tuesday at the Everyman Cinema, Hampstead. Click on the picture below to read a report of the event published in The Guardian.
Geoffrey Robertson QC (leading Human Rights Lawyer):
'An enormously powerful and authentic film.'

Oona King MP (Founder of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Great Lakes Region and Genocide Prevention):
'I think it is a fantastic achievement that SHOOTING DOGS has been made. Everyone watching this film will be moved by it and I hope will then look into doing something about these international failures. The important message that runs through the film is ‘What can I do within my sphere of influence to make a difference?’, no matter how small that sphere may be.'

Claver Gatete (The Rwandan Ambassador to the UK):
'I want to thank the filmmakers because they have made a real contribution to Rwanda and the Rwandese…it is an important story for the outside world to know. For us, we have lived this situation…it is so difficult to really tell what happened…but here, they have really done their best. It has explained the failure of the United Nations, it has explained the sacrifices, but also the realities of how people are dying…there were, and are, people really in this situation. World headquarters are still struggling to define what genocide is. This film has tried to tell the whole story of the genocide in Rwanda, in the setting of Rwanda. The film is authentic, shot in Rwanda and with a lot of local participation…this makes it real. The Rwandese, the government officials and also President Kagame, who saw the film last week, believe that this was one of the best films to present the reality. It is the same language, the same people…it best shows how Rwanda was left on its own to deal with its own problems.'

Steven Crawshaw (UK Director of Human Rights Watch) :
'The film makes the issue incredibly clear that Rwanda was a massive international failure, a political failure and a media failure. The film clearly follows the old phrase that ‘all evil needs to triumph is for good man to stand by and do nothing’, and this was very much the case with Rwanda.'

Guy Vassell-Adams (Barrister at The Doughty Street Chambers & Author of the OXFAM report on the Rwandan Genocide) :
'It is a powerful and moving film…it conveyed very well the appalling moral dilemmas that foreigners in Rwanda found themselves in…it is a very powerful indictment of the failure of the UN to respond to genocide…it conveyed this very well. It was a wonderful thing that the film really involved the Rwandan people in the making of it. It is important for people that survived the genocide to know that their story is being told and is heard all over the world. A film like this plays a very important role in that , and I’m sure would be very much welcomed…'
Guardian Article
Guardian Article
-click on the picture to enlarge-

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Upcoming Exclusive SHOOTING DOGS Events:

Amnesty International UK Screening and Q&A.
Thursday 9th March, 6:30pm, Amnesty UK Headquarters, London.
Screening followed by Q&A session with John Hurt, Hugh Dancy, Clare Hope Ashitey & director Michael Caton-Jones.

Pre-Release Charity Screening in association with The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.
Sunday 19th March, 1pm, The Tricycle Cinema, London.

Tickets include Q&A with 2006 BAFTA nominee, producer DAVID BELTON. Tickets from £20 including pre-performance drink.
All funds raised go to The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.

For Ticket Information, please contact Carla Cornwell:
Tel: 0207 697 7755
Charity Rg.No. 1000340

Pre-Release Screening at The BFI National Film Theatre, London.
Wednesday 22nd March, 6:15pm, National Film Theatre, Southbank, London.

Screening to be followed by a Q&A session with SHOOTING DOGS' Director Michael Caton-Jones and John Hurt.

For more information and to book tickets for this exclusive event, please visit:

NFT Box Office
020 7928 3232
Open 11.30am to 8.30pm

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Drew Wood - Line Producer of Shooting Dogs

'As a Line Producer I am responsible for preparing and supervising the budget, hiring the crew, controlling the film on a day to day basis and establishing a framework which will enable each department to maximise its potential in the making of the film.

In early 2004 I was invited by BBC Films to meet with David Belton, Ruth Caleb (Executive Producer) & Susy Liddell (BBC Films Head of Production) to discuss the film, SHOOTING DOGS. At this initial meeting it was clear to me that this script was a once in a career opportunity to involve myself in something more than a film. To that extent I grasped it with both hands believing the challenge would satisfy all my senses and aspirations. I was not to be disappointed.

A few months later after many meetings David, Michael & I headed for Kigali. What an experience it was to visit Rwanda for the first time, but what surprised me in my very polite English way, was that discussions about the genocide were very transparent and were always brought into the open even by the victims. Everyone you met had their own personal story and needed to tell it. One cannot possibly imagine without having been there in '94, how this period affected every man, woman & child throughout Rwanda and its neighbouring countries.

Now the question for me was, in a country with no film infrastructure, and more importantly with my limited budget, how could we make a feature film there and utilise the local populous into a professional film crew.

I was determined that this could and would work and so set myself the task of finding an initial small group of key people in Rwanda that I could work with. I was very fortunate that through some initial meetings I was able to meet with Maurice Nyaruhirra (Government Liaison), Juvens Ntampuhwe (Unit Manager), Yahaya Muvunyi (Locations & Local Community) & Hope Azida (Rwanda Casting Director). These four were to spearhead the Rwandese crew. I have to say that we relied on them totally for advice and guidance in all local matters.

The UK & German Crew were a delight to work with. There are not many times one can put ones hand on ones heart and say that one had found a near perfect group, all committed and all willing to share their knowledge with their Rwandese counterparts.

It was wonderful to see both groups blossom and grow in stature as each shooting day progressed.

We were indeed a privileged group to have had "the experience" of SHOOTING DOGS. At times it felt as though each and every cast and crew member had their own mission in Rwanda to help tell the story of '94.

The relationships between the Rwandese crew and those we met in Rwanda have forged friendships that will stay with us forever.'
-Drew Wood, Line Producer

Monday, March 06, 2006


Kigali, Rwanda, 1994. When Hutu militias begin slaughtering thousands of Tutsis, many flee to the safety of a school – also a post for UN soldiers – run by Father Christopher (Hurt) and Joe Connor (Dancy), a young Englishman straight out of college who’s looking to “make a difference”.
Among so many painful moments in Michael Caton-Jones' latest, there is one that best sums up the atrocious state of affairs: a Tutsi man – the head of a family living in the school that has become a refugee camp – politely asks with all the dignity he can muster for the UN soldiers who are about to leave to shoot them; it will be quicker and less painful than being hacked to death by machetes. It's offered up without grandstanding, and it's typically, utterly heartbreaking.
Shooting Dogs shares common ground – at some points crossing over – with last year’s Hotel Rwanda (comparisons will be as inevitable as they are obvious). But here, by telling the story primarily from the point of Father Christopher and Joe, the burden of White Western guilt is pressed upon us more specifically.
As the world-weary priest fast running out of faith, Hurt plays the type of role he might as well get trademarked, never missing a beat. He's ably supported by Dancy, Horwitz and newcomer Ashitey, but everyone in front of the camera owes a debt to David Wolstencroft's understated script which has the feel of on-form Loach, and only ever falters in its final scenes.

VERDICT Sam Toy, Empire

Told with honesty and integrity, there's no way the story for Shooting Dogs could ever have made a bad film, but a script that refuses sentimentality and fine performances elevate it just shy of greatness.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

John Reid MP attends Thursday night's screening of Shooting Dogs:

Thursday night's packed out screening of Shooting Dogs at The Rex was hosted by Matthew Freud and introduced by Michael Caton Jones. Correspondents from Channel 4 News, The Independent, BBC World Service and Reuters were all in attendence for the screening that was specifically aimed at introducing the film to the news agenda. The Secretary of State for Defence, John Reid MP was present and was impressed by the film. Michael Caton Jones used his introduction to urge those present to support Shooting Dogs. He said: "The film is about the big questions - What can one person do? If you like the film, please tell everyone you know. We are very proud of this film."

Friday, March 03, 2006

Tuesday's Screening of Shooting Dogs

Tuesday night saw yet another hugely successful packed screening of SHOOTING DOGS at The Everyman Cinema in Hampstead. Arranged in association with leading Human Rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC and The Doughty Street Chambers, the film was screened to a full-house of lawyers, politicians and NGO representatives. These high profile events are proving hugely successful as platforms through which we can raise awareness of SHOOTING DOGS. The Guardian even decided to report on the event. All that attended the screening remained in their seats as the film concluded, keen to discuss the issues raised by the film in the pursuing Q&A session. A number of interesting and important issues were raised in the discussion lead by a host of leading panelists: Geoffrey Robertson QC, Claver Gatete (The Rwandan Ambassador to the UK), Oona King (founder of The All-Party Parliamentary Group on The Great Lakes Regions and Genocide Prevention), Steven Crawshaw (UK Director of Human Rights Watch), and Guy Vassall-Adams (Barrister at The Doughty Street Chambers and author of the OXFAM report on the genocide).

Shooting Dogs won high acclaim from each of the panel members, described as the best and most important film based on the Rwandan genocide to date. These sentiments were echoed by President Kagame who watched the film in Kigali last week.

It was of the shared opinion that the film was capable of going a long way in raising awareness. Oona King pointed out and emphatically supported the central message that the film articulates as the most important factor in preventing future genocide - the importance and responsibility of the individual. To point blame after such a humanitarian crisis is of no consequence. It is the responsibility of the individual to be aware and to utilise all the power and influence within one's own personal sphere, however great or small that may be, no matter how far away from the crisis one may be, TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

The failure of the media at the time was brought up on a number of occasions, as was the fact that even today people are still unaware of the atrocities that took place there in 1994. Steven Crawshaw of Human Rights Watch talked of how the media constantly seems to avoid the current important issues until it is too late. The example he drew upon was of particular interest. He described how during the week of the 10 year commemoration of the Rwandan genocide in 2004, the papers were full of retrospectives on the Rwandan genocide. At this very point when the media was looking back at the world's failure in 1994, there was at that very moment, genocide taking place in Darfur. Darfur of course had no coverage.

Other topics covered were the successes and failings of gacaca as a way of bringing stability to Rwandan society, the culpability of Europe and King Leopald in initially installing the division between Hutu and Tutsi, and of course, the involvement (or lack of) of the British government in 1994. If you would like to comment of any the issues raised at the event, please post your comments below. An audio file of the Q & A session should be available on the blog soon.

To read a PDF version of the event handout, click here.

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