Two outsiders witness an onslaught of bloody Rwandan genocide in this fact-based drama from director Michael Caton-Jones (Scandal). In 1994, Joe Connor (Hugh Dancy) is a British schoolteacher who has volunteered to spend a year at the École… More Two outsiders witness an onslaught of bloody Rwandan genocide in this fact-based drama from director Michael Caton-Jones (Scandal). In 1994, Joe Connor (Hugh Dancy) is a British schoolteacher who has volunteered to spend a year at the École Technique Officielle, a school in the Rwandan capital of Kigali. Connor's arrival in Rwanda occurs after the nation's Civil War between the Tutsis and the Hutus has dissipated (c. August 1993). Yet despite the official end of this well-publicized struggle, political negotiations between the two groups have reached a stalemate, and the Hutus begin systematic preparation for a mass-genocide of the Tutsi people (who have assumed political power via the establishment of the RPF). Connor has already seen signs of the coming conflict in the abuse meted out to Marie (Claire-Hope Ashitey), a Tutsi student who was one of his star pupils, as well as the bitter hatred expressed by François (David Gyasi), a Hutu janitor at the school. As the genocide erupts, with extreme Hutu factions slaughtering Tutsis by the thousands, the École Technique becomes a base of operations for Belgian peacekeeping forces from the United Nations. Most extended visitors from the West (especially America and Europe) flee Rwanda as the fighting breaks out, but Connor decides to stay, and in fact strikes up a friendship with Father Christopher (John Hurt), a Catholic priest who has come to the nation as a missionary. As Father Christopher serves mass and strives to offer solace to the Tutsis and moderate Hutus caught in the fighting, he and Connor use the school as a safe haven for Tutsi refugees; however, after five days of genocidal killing, the U.N. troops move out, leaving little hope for the people they were supposed to protect. Beyond the Gates was produced by David Belton, who helped write the film's story; Belton was a correspondent with the BBC who was assigned to Rwanda when the fighting broke out. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Consensus: Complex, human characters and on-location shooting give Beyond the Gates palpable tension and urgency.