Shooting Dogs — re-named for Christians!

The opening paragraph’s reference to “North America” is a wee bit misleading, since Shooting Dogs (2005; my review) already played in Canada last summer, but anyhoo, Variety says the film is finally coming to the United States — under a new title:

IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME coming, but “Shooting Dogs,” the “other” Rwandan genocide movie, has finally secured a North American theatrical release.

New York-based Adirondack Pictures has acquired the rights and teamed with IFC Films to handle distribution.

Directed by Michael Caton-Jones, pic opens March 9 with a new title for American auds: “Beyond the Gates.” The new moniker is meant to broaden the film’s appeal beyond urban liberals, its primary audience in other territories. . . .

Although the U.S. was the hardest territory to sell, Belton believes it’s the market with the greatest potential. A special screening in Louisiana in April bolstered his confidence: Organized by the wife of a local professor who appeared as an extra in the film, it drew an intense response from a 650-strong, largely Christian audience.

The movie also swept the jury and audience prizes at last October’s Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis, which is dedicated to films with moral as well as artistic merit. With a heroic priest as its central character, the pic has a natural hook for the devout Midwestern crowd. . . .

Indeed, the title was changed because the filmmakers felt the dramatic irony of “Shooting Dogs” — a reference to UN soldiers who were willing to fire upon stray dogs eating dead bodies outside the compound, but not upon the hostile Hutus — was too restrictively cynical and intellectual.

The film also has new opening and closing captions that emphasize its moral and spiritual dimensions. The movie opens with the Buddhist proverb, “Every man is given the key to the gates of heaven. The same key opens the gates of hell,” and closes with a quote from Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel: “The opposite of faith is not heresy, but indifference.” . . .

So they’re planning to promote the movie to Christians — more of that studios-looking-for-Passion-dollars thing, no doubt — but they’ve added quotes from non-Christians to the beginning and ending of the movie. Indeed, the new title, which could refer to the fact that a genocide is taking place “beyond the gates” of the Catholic school — and which, for an evangelical audience, could also evoke memories of the recent documentary Beyond the Gates of Splendor (2002) — is also closely connected to that Buddhist proverb. Hmmm. Could be interesting to see how that flies.

And for what it’s worth, the movie has one other marketing hook now that it didn’t have before: One of its more prominent supporting actors is Claire-Hope Ashitey, who can now be seen playing a miraculously pregnant refugee in Children of Men.

JAN 8 UPDATE: Incidentally, according to and the Videomatica website, the film seems to be due for a Canadian DVD release — under its original name — on February 20.

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  • what about “Sometimes in April”

  • Haven’t seen that one. FWIW, it was produced for TV, so it’s in a slightly different category than Hotel Rwanda (2004), Shooting Dogs (2005), Un dimanche à Kigali (2006) and the upcoming Shake Hands with the Devil (2007), all of which were produced for the big screen.