23 Jul 2021

'They Are Us' filmmakers put development on hold

5:42 pm on 23 July 2021

Development of a proposed film about the aftermath of the Christchurch terror attacks has been put on hold after a major backlash.

Al Noor Mosque

Al Noor Mosque was one of those targeted in the terror attack. (File image) Photo: AFP

Last month, it was reported a film with the working title 'They Are Us' would be made, focusing on the prime minister's response to the 2019 attacks which killed 51 people.

Just days after, Auckland-based producer Philippa Campbell announced she would be withdrawing after news of the film drew criticism.

In a statement, New Zealand screenwriter and producer Andrew Niccol said a draft version of the script which was leaked to affected members of the Muslim community was only intended for potential financiers.

"It was given to them in the strictest confidence, and all were informed that this was not intended to be the final version.

"All scenes in the script are placeholders until we have completed further consultation with the [affected] families.

"Development of the film is on hold until full consultation of with New Zealand's Muslim community has taken place."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has previously said she was not consulted about it.

Meanwhile, the National Islamic Youth Association began a petition, accusing the film of being "tokenistic", and stating that Niccol should not be the one to make it.

The petition garnered thousands of signatures.

A range of Muslim groups have also expressed their discomfort with the film's focus and its timing.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel also said she was outraged by the news and added that the film's crews would not be welcome in the city if they filmed there.

Niccol said they had intended to honour the lives of those who died as well as survivors.

"From its inception, we wanted to tell the story of how an unprecedented act of hatred was overwhelmed by an outpouring of love."

He said they wanted to ensure the opinions of those affected by the terror attack and the wider community would be heard before continuing with the film.

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