Jacinda Ardern says planned film about 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks feels ‘very soon and very raw’

Prime minister said it was ‘not for me’ to tell film makers what they can produce

Isobel Lewis
Monday 14 June 2021 10:28
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Jacinda Ardern commemorates two years since Christchurch mosque massacre

Jacinda Ardern has spoken out against plans for a film about the 2019 New Zealand mosque attacks.

Last week, it was reported that plans were in place for a Hollywood film based around the massacre, in which a gunman opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, killing 51 people and injuring 40.

The film – titled They Are Us – is said to focus on Ardern (played by Rose Byrne) and her response to the terrorist attack, but faced backlash for not focusing on the victims of the attack.

Speaking to TVNZ’s Breakfast on Monday (14 June), the prime minister said that a film about the attack felt “very soon and very raw” for New Zealand.

“While there are so many stories that should be told at some point, I don’t consider mine to be one of them,” she said. “They’re the community’s stories, they’re the families’ stories.”

Ardern also said that she found out about the project just before it was announced in the press, but that it wasn’t her place to tell the entertainment industry what films they cannot make.

“It’s not for me to tell people what they can or cannot do [in] the filmmaking community. We wouldn’t want a country where a prime minister could tell that community what to do, but I’m sure they’ve heard my perspective on it too,” she said.

Rose Byrne (right) will reportedly play Jacinda Ardern in the project

Earlier on Monday, producer Philippa Campbell stepped down from the project while publicly apologising for her involvement in it.

“I have listened to the concerns raised over recent days and I have heard the strength of people’s views,” she said.

“I now agree that the events of 15 March 2019 are too raw for film at this time and do not wish to be involved with a project that is causing such distress.”

However, Campbell did note that the film did not intend to only focus on Ardern and that producer Ayman Jamal had interviewed a number of Muslims from Christchurch for the project.

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