Controversy over the Jacinda film

Stuff reports:

Members of Christchurch’s Muslim community were “blindsided” by news of an upcoming film about the aftermath of the 2019 mosque attacks.

Aya Al-Umari​, whose brother, Hussein​, was among the 51 people killed in the attacks on March 15, 2019, said she learned about the film on Twitter.

”I was surprised, to be honest,” she said.

“Without knowing the context of the movie I’m not sure I can put a positive spin to it. It seems like it’s just capitalising on what happened here and I don’t think it will be well received in New Zealand.”

The film, entitled They Are Us, is being billed as an “inspirational story about the young leader’s response to the tragic events” that will follow Jacinda Ardern as she helped rally the government and the New Zealand public behind a message of compassion and unity in the weeks following the attacks.

It will be directed, and was written, by Kiwi Andrew Niccol​ (Gattaca), who, according to The Hollywood Reporter, developed the script “in consultation with several members of the mosques affected by the tragedy”.

Al-Umari said nobody in her circle had been consulted, and she had not heard of the production approaching anyone at all.

”Given the statement did say that it was in consultation with several members of the mosque tragedy [families], I would have expected to know.”

Tony Green, a member of the An-Nur mosque​ who acted as a media spokesperson for the Muslim Association of Canterbury after the attacks, said he was also unaware of any consultation and had spoken with at least one family member of a March 15 victim who was angered by news of the project.

The Prime Minister has distanced herself from the film, telling Stuff neither she nor the Government had any involvement with the production, but Mire said that wasn’t good enough.

He called on her to denounce the film.

“I understand the Prime Minister can’t control who decides to depict her or write about her, but what she can do is speak out and say this is insensitive and in her view not appropriate,” he said. “To be silent indicates that she herself is comfortable with this sort of movie.”

There are two issues here. The first is whether any sort of film at all is appropriate, and the second is whether the focus should be on Jacinda, rather than the victims or those who confronted the terrorist at the risk of their own lives.

But they have already cast Rose Byrne as Jacinda. Byrne played a handmaiden to Padme in Attack of the Clones and was the voice of Jemima Puddle-Duck in Peter Rabbot.

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