New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has weighed in on an upcoming film that is set to focus on her response to the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks.
ICYMI, a movie called They Are Us is being planned around the massacre, which saw the deaths of 51 people at the hands of a white supremacist gunman.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film will be an “inspirational story” about Ardern’s response to the violence. The film’s title is drawn from a speech by Ardern on the day of the shootings.
Although the movie’s script was reportedly developed in consultation with some members of the mosques targeted, it has also sparked backlash from both the general public and the Muslim community in New Zealand. A petition opposing the production of the film has already amassed over 60,000 signatures.
“The film centres white voices and therefore will continue to white-wash the horrific violence perpetrated against Muslim communities,” the petition reads.
Now, Jacinda Ardern has confirmed that she believes that the Muslim community should be at the centre of any film about the shootings, instead of her.
“This is [a] very raw event for New Zealand and even more so for the community that experienced it,” she said at a press conference.
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“I agree that there are stories that at some point should be told from March 15. But they are the stories from our Muslim community so they need to be at the centre of that. I don’t consider mine to be one of the stories that needs to be told,” she said.
Ardern went on to add that it was not for her to say whether the project should go ahead or not.
Meanwhile, a producer who was working on They Are Us, Philippa Campbell, has released a statement announcing her resignation.
“I have listened to the concerns raised over recent days and I have heard the strength of people’s views. I now agree that the events of March 15, 2019, are too raw for [a] film at this time and do not wish to be involved with a project that is causing such distress,” Campbell said.
Australian actor Rose Byrne, who is set to portray Ardern, has yet to comment publicly on the controversy.
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