Hotel Rwanda was a good film. It opened a grim reality to wide audience, waking people up to the shameful behaviour of the rest of the world in the mid 1990s. But in making the film appeal to the mass market, there was some caricaturing of individuals, some mushing of multiple personalities into single roles which flattened some of the characters and as a result, you didn't feel like you were there. You felt touched...but lightly.
Shooting Dogs is fundamentally the same story. It's about not being able to help everyone; of choosing the lesser of two evils; and the challenges of watching humanity ripped apart. It's about being a stranger where one has felt welcome; and about the sheer fear and fatalism that comes from having ones security withdrawn.
But it takes a very different approach to Hotel Rwanda, focusing on a single incident at a school compound and on a handful of key personalities rather than telling the story of the genocide at a national level through the acts of one man. That said...it's not a claustrophobic film to watch in any way as there is a lot of crowd action.
It's far easier to be sucked into the film and it is very moving. The images are less confronting but the story and the outcomes far more so. One leaves the film not able to remember any key scenes, or recite any of the lines, but a bit shellshocked and thinking that it's an amazing film.
Despite being more forgettable, the film is somehow more tangible - the fear more intense but easier to empathise with (perhaps because it's ramped up more slowly).
The acting is excellent, the dynamic between Dancy and Hurd almost familial and it's a film that works and a strong story.
I personally preferred this to Hotel Rwanda even if it was not as gripping. If you're the kind of person that likes to leave a film touched rather than impressed, this may be a film for you.