On April 9, 1994, three days after the assassination of President Habyarimana, two after the murder of ten Belgian peacekeepers, and several months after the UN ignored warn-ings of a planned genocide, large scale massacres of Tutsis by armed Hutu militia began in the African state of Rwanda.

The UN Security Council ordered its peacekeepers not to intervene and plans were made for their withdrawal.

Between April 11 and 21, Western nationals were evacuated and come April 25 most UN troops had left the country. By April 27 the estimated Tutsi deathtoll was 250,000.

A day later, a US advisor refused to use the term genocide, since to do so would have required the Security Council to act.

Finally, on May 24, the US State Department officially acknowledged that "acts of genocide" were taking place.

Over a decade later, almost the same length of time it took to broach the Vietnam War, Hollywood finally got round addressing what happened and exposing the West's shameful complicity by inaction with the Oscar winning Hotel Rwanda.

Now comes a second, no less potent but considerably grimmer account of events in the shape of Shooting Dogs.

Directed by Michael Caton-Jones and partly based on the experiences of producer David Belton who covered the genocide for the BBC, it recounts the massacre that took place at the Ecole Technique Officielle in Kigali.

Filmed in the very school where it took place, the tragedy is told through the eyes of two fictional - but factually inspired - characters, the school's Catholic priest (John Hurt) and naive teacher Joe Connor, played by Stoke-on-Trent born Hugh Dancy, recent star of Channel 4's Elizabeth I and, ironically, also appearing in Basic Instinct 2.

Like most, he admits to having known little about what happened in Rwanda prior to his involvement in the film, but confesses that, while shooting on the site of the massacre greatly informed the film, the experience was less intense than he'd anticipated.

"I expected it to be extremely emotional but the reality was that day to day you're doing a job trying to get the film made, as were the Rwandan survivors of the genocide who were committed to getting the story told," he says.

"I think for a lot of them there was a sense of catharsis, but generally for us it was more a case of the moments of insight you received from the people you talked to."

With a great number of the cast and crew all having survived the genocide and having either witnessed or being personally involved in the traumatic events being re-enacted, Dancy admits there were harrowing stories to be heard.

"When you heard people candidly describe their shared experiences, there was an overwhelming sense that there was nothing appropriate you could say as a response," he says quietly.

"There is no appropriate emotional reaction when somebody is telling you that they've lost ten, 20, 30, 60, 70, 80 members of their family, and they're being very matter-of-fact about it because their neighbours probably had the same experience and you can't sit there weeping and berating yourself.

"If that had happened to me, or to every member of my extended family, I would have dropped dead from grief," he continues.

"And you begin to realise that the only reason that doesn't happen is because of the universal experience there.

"People are very honest and open about what happened to them because they wanted to have their story told.

"It was only when people got to the end of the litany of horrors their family had experienced and got on to the bigger, perhaps unanswerable questions as to why or how this had happened, that you began to see emotion in them and to sense something which I imagine can never be laid to rest."

Given that 85 per cent of the country is Hutu, one wonders if any perpetrators of the genocide volunteered their stories too.

"No, because the whole process of justice is still going on so nobody is holding their hand up and saying 'I wash myself in my sins' because they'd technically go to jail or worse.

"But in terms of were there people involved from both sides of the equation, like with any film there was a call for extras and while I'm not saying there were Hutus playing Tutsi survivors, statistically speaking it's inevitable there would have been perpetrators in the genocide involved in the movie."

While the practical realities of making a film may have not left time or room to be affected by the story at the time, Dancy admits that he came away shaken by the events Shooting Dogs portrays.

"When I got back I found myself being very emotional about the time in Rwanda in a way that I hadn't been able to or allowed myself to be when we were there," he reveals.

"Every time I see the movie, what gets me is the scene where the Tutsis go to the UN soldiers who are leaving and beg them to kill the children to save them from far more brutal deaths," he says.

"That happened, as did the scene where the soldiers not only fired shots in the air to get people out of the way of the buses but also told the hungry refugees that there was food at the other end of the school, so they'd hotfoot it over there while they got away on the buses."

The problem the film faces, of course, is that it comes so closely on the heels of Hotel Rwanda, not just a film that benefited from being the first to tell the story and the kudos of a raft of awards, but one that, while no less critical of the West, left audiences with an upbeat ending.

Dancy acknowledges the marketing hurdles, but remains optimistic that there's an audience out there.

"Are people going to want to see two movies about Rwanda? I hope so, and I think the notion that they're telling the same story it's not correct just as not every film about Vietnam or the Holocaust is telling the same story.

"I don't think Michael Caton-Jones would have approached it if he didn't feel there was a different style of film to be made.

"I think the two films diverge because what you're faced with when you go to Rwanda and what Joe's dilemma is, is that no matter how much you try you ultimately come up against a wall of total hopelessness.

"You can try and carry the light of human goodness but ultimately you're fighting a losing battle and I think Hotel Rwanda did present a more palatable version of human tragedy."