Insensitive and exploitive: Film on Christchurch shooting causes uproar

'They Are Us', a film on Jacinda Adren's response to the horrific 2019 shooting, has been accused of 'white saviorism'

Entertainment Desk June 11, 2021

In a rather disappointing move, reports of Rose Byrne to play New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a film about 2019 horrific Christchurch Shooting has been making rounds. The news of an upcoming Hollywood film about the aftermath of the terror attack starring has irked many, causing outrage on social media. The movie is set to be titled They Are Us, taken from a speech Prime Minister Ardern gave following the murder of 51 people on March 15, 2019.

Reports of the project immediately drew backlash, with online commentators dubbing the idea "sickening" and "exploitative".

"I don't want a commercialised product about the event which had me hold a sobbing bereaved father in my arms the following Tuesday morning, thanks," one Twitter user wrote.

"Sorry, why did anyone think this was a good idea?" Another questioned, while a third asked: "Please tell me this is all a joke."

According to Deadline, the film "follows Ardern's response to the tragic events and the remarkable achievements of her government and citizens", leaving some people unimpressed with the spotlight being on the Prime Minister over the victims and their families.

"The movie isn't about the victims! It's focused on Jacinda. And yes, she did well, but we CANNOT disregard the victims. No one wants this movie," one tweet reads. "No. Not a movie, that's so freaking gross and inconsiderate," another said. "The Christchurch terror attack has been seared onto the memories of Muslims around the globe, and I can't imagine what the people of Christchurch still feel. Make it a documentary or better yet, cancel it."

"This makes me want to vomit. The act of hate was murdering 51 people and it wasn't overcome by the outpouring of love, they remain dead and their families traumatised and bereft and this white dude wants to make a movie about how lovely we all were?" one tweet asked.

Just days after the terror attack in 2019, an Egyptian filmmaker saying he planned to make a film entitled Hello Brother about the massacre prompted similar outrage.

They Are Us is set to be written and directed by Kiwi Andrew Niccol - a choice with which some are taking issue, labelling his venture an example of "white saviour mentality".

“They Are Us is not so much about the attack but the response to the attack…how an unprecedented act of hate was overcome by an outpouring of love and support,” said Niccol. “The film addresses our common humanity, which is why I think it will speak to people around the world. It is an example of how we should respond when there’s an attack on our fellow human beings.”

“We are thrilled to bring to the market this inspiring true story about the positive impact, even in the darkest of moments, a strong leader can have on their constituents’ lives when they work from a place of compassion, love and an unwavering conviction to do what is right,” said FilmNation CEO Glen Basner.

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