Mon 14 June 2021:
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday criticised a planned movie about her response to the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks as poorly timed and focussed on the wrong subject.
The movie, They Are US, is said to focus on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s response in the week following the March 15, 2019 attacks.
The move came after strong reaction from the Muslim community in the island nation, which said the focus on the prime minister, rather than the victims, is wrong, and it is just Hollywood profiting off the community’s pain.
An intense backlash among New Zealand Muslims, with community leaders slamming the project for pushing a “white saviour” narrative.
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Ardern said the attacks — when a white supremacist gunman ran amok at two mosques during Friday prayers, killing 51 and seriously injuring another 40 — remained “very raw” for many New Zealanders.
She said filmmakers had not consulted her about the movie, which is set to star Australia’s Rose Byrne as the centre-left leader.
“In my view, which is a personal view, it feels very soon and very raw for New Zealand,” Ardern told TVNZ.
A petition from the National Islamic Youth Association calling for the production to be shut down has gathered more than 60,000 signatures.
The association said the proposed film “sidelines the victims and survivors and instead centres the response of a white woman”.
It said the Muslim community had not been properly consulted about the project, which has been scripted by New Zealand writer Andrew Niccol.
Producer pulls out of film
In a statement quoted by Radio New Zealand, producer Philippa Campbell said she deeply regrets the shock and hurt the announcement of the film has led to throughout New Zealand.
She said she listened to the concerns raised over recent days, and agrees that the events of March 15, 2019 are too raw for film at this time and does not wish to be involved with a project that is causing such distress.
Brenton Tarrant, an Australian white supremacist, killed 51 people and injured 40 more at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre. He was sentenced to life in prison last August without the possibility of parole, in a first such ruling ever handed down in New Zealand.
A petition to shut down the film’s production, launched by the National Islamic Youth Association of New Zealand, has also gained over 61,000 signatures over the past three days.
The association said the filmmaker sidelines the victims and survivors and instead centers on the response of a white woman.
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