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Christchurch Mosque set film: filmmakers’ labels inappropriately focus on Jacinda Ardern

Gerard Smyth. Photo / Supplied

A Christchurch filmmaker said a decision on the deadly attacks on mosques should be about the victims and not about a “white savior”.

When the movie They Are Us was announced, it was said that the main protagonist would be Jacinda Ardern and her response to the tragedy during that first week. She will be played by Australian actress Rose Byrne.

Gerard Smyth, owner of Frank Film and director of When a City Falls, told the Herald that the choice to focus on Jacinda Ardern was inappropriate.

“It’s very difficult to separate this story from the much bigger story which is the welfare of these families that have been completely torn apart and any movie really has to talk about it more than we do, surely.”

When asked if he thought it was too early for the movie to be shot, he replied, “I don’t know about the too early thing.

“I think if it was shot in 30 years, a movie about a white savior and not about the people who were devastated only perpetuates the story of us and not of them.”

Jacinda Ardern will be played in Australian actress Rose Byrne's film.  Photo / Supplied
Jacinda Ardern will be played in Australian actress Rose Byrne’s film. Photo / Supplied

Smythe said many people affected by attacks on mosques were already vulnerable.

“These are new people in a new country, who often come here in the face of tragedy, their stories are amazing as individuals and of course what happened to them at the mosque is absolutely terrifying.

“Telling a story about Jacinda Ardern in the face of this is probably inappropriate. “

Hollywood has a history of glorifying and making heroes out of white saviors, he said.

“Maybe that needs to change, maybe we don’t need to honor this legacy.”

Meanwhile, the film’s producers will be holding further consultation discussions with all of the victims and their families of the Fateful Day.

The March 15, 2019 mosque attacks in Christchurch sparked a scrutiny of the fight against terrorism in New Zealand.  Photo / NZME
The March 15, 2019 mosque attacks in Christchurch sparked a scrutiny of the fight against terrorism in New Zealand. Photo / NZME

The Canterbury Muslim Association has announced that it will work to help the producers of the film.

The film has been the subject of controversy over the past few days, with audiences claiming it was too early for one of New Zealand’s most tragic days to be portrayed on the big screen.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also said he still felt “very raw”.


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