After New Zealand Muslims were subjected to a horrific terrorist attack in 2019 that killed 51 people, American newspapers announced plans to shoot a movie called “They Are Us” about the incident, but instead of focusing on the victims of the incident, the filmmakers announced that it will revolve around New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s reaction to the incident.
The film’s production plans did not go unnoticed by the Muslim community in New Zealand, which is still crying out for its victims, and the film was met with a lot of criticism and accusations, because of its focus on Ardern’s handling of the incident, and ignoring the real victims of the horrific attack, which the Prime Minister denounced, prompting the film’s producer to resign. Read also Want to immigrate to New Zealand? It confronted Corona and violence against Muslims.. Re-election of the Prime Minister of New Zealand by an overwhelming majority Commemorating the massacre of the two mosques.. New Zealand Prime Minister considers protecting Muslims a national duty واجب New Zealand’s first female police officer wears a headscarf designed specifically for her uniform
of massacre victims
The location ” Hollywood Reporter ” (Hollywood Reporter) first published on June 10 / June news new film production “are we” inspired title from speech Ordern after attack which carried out armed extremist white on two mosques in Christchurch New Zealand in March / March 2019, And resulted in the killing of 51 worshipers.
The site announced that the film takes place in the week after the terrorist attacks, and focuses on Ardern’s ability to deal with the incident, and described the film as “an inspiring story about the young leader’s response to tragic events.”
New Zealand film director and author Andrew Nicholl told The Hollywood Reporter that the film was “not so much about the attack, as it is about the response to the attack by Ardern, and how an unprecedented hate incident was overcome through love and support.”
torrent of accusations
The film drew heavy criticism for apparently ignoring the Muslim victims of a racist hate crime and recasting the story to promote the “white savior.”
As news of the film reached New Zealand, local media reported violent reactions to focusing on the prime minister’s story rather than the victims and their families, and the hashtag #TheyAreUsShutdown spread on social media, calling for the film to be stopped, and survivors, Muslims, writers and activists interacted with it. .
The Hollywood Reporters quoted New Zealand’s Stuff newspaper that the Muslim community in Christchurch was “shocked” by the story of the film, and Aya Al-Omari, whose brother Hussein died in the attack, said she learned about the film through social media, and that they were not consulted.
Officials distance themselves
Following the announcement of the film – which was followed by a severe and unexpected wave of criticism – the Prime Minister quickly distanced herself from the film, and confirmed a day after the announcement that “she or the government was not involved in any way in the production.”
Moreover, Ardern joined the film’s critics, saying at a press conference that the film was “too early and too sensitive” for New Zealand, and emphasized that her country’s Muslim community, not her, “should be the focus of any film on the Christchurch mosque attacks”.
“There are a lot of stories from the accident that can be told, but I don’t consider mine to be one of them,” she added, explaining that though, it was not up to her to decide whether or not to go ahead with the project.
On the other hand, the famous New Zealand producer Philippa Campbell announced her resignation from the production of the film, and said in a statement to the media, “I have listened to the concerns that have been raised in recent days and have gained the strength of people’s opinions. I don’t want to be involved in a project that causes such a crisis.”
Campbell is the producer of the highest-grossing New Zealand horror film of all time, Black Sheep, as well as the popular TV series Top of the Lake, which was nominated for 8 Emmy Awards, winning one of them.
Ayman Gamal, one of the film’s producers, said, “It was not the intention of anyone working on the project to cause a crisis. We were shocked by the pain and fear caused by the announcement of the film.”
Not only did film critics offer their opinions via social media, but the National Association of Muslim Youth launched an online petition calling for the film’s production to be halted, saying that it “marginalizes victims and survivors, and focuses only on the response of a white woman.”
The petition called on production companies to stop their work on the film, called on funders to stop supporting it, and urged the Prime Minister to issue a statement denouncing the film, and making it clear that the government would not provide any support to enable it to move forward.
She stressed that “martyrs and their families deserve to be at the heart of any projects related to terrorist attacks, and entities and individuals should not seek to market the tragedy or benefit from it.”
The petition has already managed to garner more than 65,000 signatures in just 3 days.
The terrorist attacker, Brenton Tarrant, was sentenced last year to life in prison without the possibility of parole, the first time that a life sentence has been imposed in New Zealand.