NZ PM Jacinda Ardern criticizes the upcoming Christchurch Massacre film: “It feels very soon and very raw. And while there are many stories that should be told at some point, I don’t consider mine to be one of them.” A producer has also exited the project.
Following the outcry to the Cannes virtual market package, They Are Us, one of the project’s creators has stepped down, and one of the film’s subjects, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, has slammed it.
The Rose Byrne-led film portraying Ardern’s response to the 2019 Christchurch mosques shooting has been highly panned in New Zealand since its announcement on Thursday.
Philippa Campbell, a producer on the hit TV show Top Of The Lake, apologized for her role today, saying she was unaware of the film’s impact.
In a message to New Zealand media, Campbell stated, “I have listened to the concerns aired in recent days and I have heard the intensity of people’s views.”
“I now agree that the events of March 15, 2019, are too fresh for filmmaking at this time, and I do not want to be a part of a project that is inflicting such pain.”
“When I was contacted to collaborate on the film, I was moved by the filmmakers’ idea to show tribute to the victims, their families, and those who aided them,” she stated, stressing that the film will not be only about Ardern. Producer Ayman Jamal conducted research interviews with members of the Muslim community in Christchurch, which backed up this claim. I also hoped that conveying the tale of fast gun control action would resonate in America and other countries where political agreement on gun control has been difficult to achieve. I am truly sorry for the shock and pain that the film’s announcement has caused in Aotearoa New Zealand.”
The initiative was condemned today by New Zealand’s Prime Minister as being badly timed and focusing on the wrong issue. “In my own opinion, it seems extremely soon and extremely raw for New Zealand,” she told local television station TVNZ. “And, though there are many tales that ought to be shared at some time, I don’t think mine is one of them.”
It’s unusual for a country’s leader to get involved in a movie controversy. The National Islamic Youth Association has amassed over 60,000 signatures on a petition demanding for the film to be canceled, claiming that it will trivialize “victims and survivors while instead focusing on the response of a white woman.”
Brenton Tarrant, an Australian self-declared white nationalist, opened fire on worshipers inside the Al Noor mosque on 15 March 2019, streaming the incident live on Facebook. After that, he drove to the Linwood Islamic Centre, where he began his assault. The shooting spree claimed the lives of 51 people, making it New Zealand’s bloodiest shooting in modern history.
Ardern had received significant plaudits for her handling of the situation at the time, and the film’s title is based on a speech she delivered at the time.
FilmNation, CAA Media Finance, and Rose Byrne’s representatives have been contacted for comment. The bundle is still available on the market.
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