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Last Updated: Monday, 20 March 2006, 13:59 GMT
Producer defends genocide drama
A scene from Shooting Dogs
Shooting Dogs stars John Hurt as a Catholic priest in Kigali
The producer of a new film about the 1994 Rwandan genocide has responded to criticisms that the BBC-funded drama traumatised survivors of the massacre.

Representatives from aid organisations were quoted in the Observer saying the makers of Shooting Dogs showed a lack of sensitivity towards survivors.

Producer David Belton said he "deeply regretted" that one scene resulted in 15 students needing hospital treatment.

However, he stressed this was "one incident in 44 days of shooting".

Directed by Michael Caton-Jones, Shooting Dogs dramatises events that took place between 6 and 11 April 1994 at the Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO) school complex in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.

Part of the recreation saw hundreds of Rwandan extras play members of the Interahamwe militia, the Hutu extremists held responsible for the 1994 genocide.

According to Mr Belton, 15 students attending lessons at the school required hospital treatment after becoming distressed by the pretend mob's chanting and whistling.

"We had a doctor and two trauma counsellors with us and we administered to those students," he told the BBC News website.

"We had a carefully worked out plan to make sure that people would be protected from any scenes that were distressing.

'No question of vetting'

"On this particular incident, the system that we had put in place broke down."

Mr Belton said it was quite possible some of the extras used had lived through the genocide and had seen its atrocities at close hand.

But he rejected suggestions they should have been vetted about any involvement in the massacre.

A scene from Shooting Dogs
Hundreds of Rwandans appear in the film as extras
"There was never a question of vetting anybody, asking their ethnicity or anything else," he said.

"It would have been completely against Rwandan employment policy and practice.

"My view was that whoever wanted to be part of this film could be part of it," he continued.

Mr Belton added that he had received many messages of support from genocide survivors keen to have their story told.

"It is all about truth and reconciliation, and in a very small way our film is part of that process."

Shooting Dogs will be premiered in Rwanda on 22 March.

The film stars John Hurt and Hugh Dancy and is released in the UK on 31 March.

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