The setting of the film is the École Technique Officielle (ETO) in Kigali, Rwanda, in 1994, during the Rwandan Genocide. Hurt plays a Catholic priest (loosely based on Vjekoslav Ćurić) and Dancy an English teacher, both Europeans, who are caught up in the events of the genocide.
Unlike Hotel Rwanda, which was filmed in South Africa using South African actors, the film was shot in the original location of the scenes it portrays. Also, many survivors of the massacre were employed as part of the production crew and minor acting roles.
The film's title refers to the actions of UN soldiers in shooting at the stray dogs that scavenged the bodies of dead. Since the UN soldiers were not allowed to shoot at the Hutu extremists who had caused the deaths in the first place, the shooting of dogs is symbolic of the madness of the situation that the film attempts to capture.
Newly released graphic bodycam video shows cop shooting dogs