They Are Us: the film on the Christchurch attacks paused following a controversy
Announced last June, They Are Us, the film worn by Rose Byrne looking back on the Christchurch attacks, has been put on hiatus after critics from the New Zealand Muslim community who deem it “insensitive”.
On March 15, 2019, two mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, were targeted by far-right terrorist attacks leaving 51 dead and 49 injured. A killing that the director Andrew Niccol wanted to relate in his next film, They Are Us. But the pre-production of the feature film has just been suspended, as revealed The Guardian.
Indeed, the announcement of this film – which centers on the response of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to these terrible attacks – angered the Muslim community in the country. Notably after a first version of the script was illegally broadcast.
A petition has been put online to prevent this feature film, for which Rose Byrne was chosen to play Jacinda Ardern, from seeing the light of day. It already has nearly 75,000 signatures.
Director Andrew Niccol responded to the controversy with a statement sent to New Zealand media. He ensures:
I am deeply saddened by the pain caused to the families of the victims, due to the unwarranted distribution of our draft script for They Are Us. The script is far from final and there was never any question of sharing it with the concerned members of the Muslim community at such an early stage.
The filmmaker specifies that the pre-production will not resume as long as a “full consultation of the Muslim community in New Zealand will not have taken place“. And to add:”Our hope for this film imagined by producer Ayman Jamal – which will take years to see the light of day – is that it will pay tribute to the survivors and those who lost their lives. It will serve as a testament to the acts of heroism and sacrifice that took place on this tragic day.”
Trailer for Anon, Andrew Niccol’s latest film: