Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Imagining the Real—The Rwandan Massacre On Film: Shooting Dogs

The Greencine Daily has its finger on the pulse of recent controversies surrounding the upcoming release of Michael Caton-Jones' Shooting Dogs, the most recent in a cluster of films focusing on the 1994 Rwandan massacre, which I've attempted to capsulize on The Evening Class.

The film has its own blogsite where the life of the film is being tracked as it enters the public sector, along with several links to educational and informational materials. Of primary note is its sister blogsite Rwandan Survivors, a site designed "to be a voice and a platform for the survivors of the Rwandan Genocide." Rwandan Survivors contains testimonials and accounts of the genocide but also aims to look to the future, soliciting views on how such atrocities can be prevented from happening again.

Alice O'Keeffe reports to the Guardian Unlimited on the accusations that survivors were "traumatized" after being used as extras in a re-creation of the Rwanda killings. David Belton, the writer and producer of Shooting Dogs has defended the project: "I have been in close communication with the Rwandan government and organisations working there since we left, and none of them has mentioned any subsequent problems. We made the film in Rwanda because the Rwandans wanted us to. They were appalled that Hotel Rwanda was filmed in South Africa, with South African actors."

Linda Melvern, writing for The Observer, claims Shooting Dogs is fictional and that the BBC film has compounded the original sins of the Western media.

Director Michael Caton-Jones counters with an article for The Independent. "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'."
Post a Comment