PM distances herself from Chch mosque attack film

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wore loaned clothes from designers including Juliette Hogan. Photo:...
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: ODT files
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is distancing herself from a new film about the Christchurch mosque shootings, saying her office has no involvement in the project.

The movie, They Are Us, highlights the weeks after the tragic Christchurch mosque shootings on March 15 in 2019, and the weeks that followed.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister's office told The New Zealand Herald that Ardern and the Government had had no involvement with it.

Written and directed by New Zealander Andrew Niccol, the film follows Ardern's response to the massacre and showcases how Kiwis rallied behind her message of compassion and unity - including the Government's response that saw a ban on assault rifles in New Zealand.

Ardern, the main protagonist, will be played by Australian actress Rose Byrne.

The title of the film is taken from Arden's powerful speech following the devastating attack that led to the deaths of 51 people who were taking part in Friday prayers.

Ardern received worldwide praise for her response to the shootings and New Zealand rallied around the country's Muslim community, echoing the Government's response.

The script was developed directly in consultation with several members of the mosques affected by the tragedy.

Some Muslims object to film

But some New Zealand Muslims say the attack was still too raw for grieving families and their community and question the film's focus.

"This is not an inspiring story," said Mohamed Hassan, a journalist and poet based in Auckland, said in a commentary broadcast on RNZ.

"It is a tragedy, one that must always be centered around the Muslim victims and their families. No one else."

Ali said he recognised the story of the shootings needed to be told, but said it should be done so in an appropriate, authentic and sensitive way.

"There needs to be a lot of work done in New Zealand in terms of hate speech laws, recognising Islamophobia does exist in our society and the institutional prejudice within our government apparatus before a blockbuster film comes out stating that we’ve done a great job here in New Zealand."

'Bridesmaids' actress Rose Byrne. Photo: Getty Images
'Bridesmaids' actress Rose Byrne. Photo: Getty Images

'They Are Us'

Exactly what will be portrayed or just how much of the events from that day will be depicted in the film remains unknown.

Production is set to take place in New Zealand and will be produced by Ayman Jamal, Stewart Till, Niccol and Philippa Campbell.

"They Are Us is not so much about the attack, but the response to the attack [and] how an unprecedented act of hate was overcome by an outpouring of love and support," Niccol told Deadline.

"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."

Basner said: "We are thrilled to bring to market this inspiring 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."

Byrne recently starred in a limited series titled Mrs. America where she portrayed journalist and activist Gloria Steinem. She is also well known for her more comedic roles in Bridesmaids, and Bad Neighbours.

Kiwi director Niccol was nominated for an Oscar for his film Gattaca, which he wrote and directed. He also wrote and produced Oscar-nominated pic The Truman Show starring Jim Carrey.

The project is currently set to be shopped to international buyers and ​at the upcoming Cannes Virtual Market, with CAA Media Finance selling to domestic and worldwide distributors.

- NZ Herald and Reuters 



Do we really need this to be a film? Surely it's a bit soon?

It's not a local production. You can go, or not. That there has been Christchurch mosque input is encouraging.

1. It's way too soon.
2. White saviour complex much, you can claim it's not gunna be centered on Jacinda blah blah but the title is literally from her speech.. sooo?
3. If anything is going to be made it should be made by the Christchurch Muslim community and with extensive consult with survivors, families etc
4. I don't see how a none NZ entity can actually fully grasp how hard this hit our country and specifically the community of Canterbury, let alone our Muslim brothers and sisters.

We've been through enough, don't commodify our grief!

Any mention of the producers applying for 40k in grants from the taxpayer to make this?

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter