Christchurch mosque shooting movie: Film-maker labels focus on Jacinda Ardern inappropriate

A Christchurch film-maker says a move about the deadly mosque attacks needs to be about the victims, not a “white saviour”.

When the film 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 Smythe, who owns Frank Film and directed When a City Falls, told the Herald the choice to focus on Jacinda Ardern was inappropriate.

“It’s very difficult to separate that story from the much bigger story which is the wellbeing of those families that have been utterly ripped apart and any film really needs to talk about them more than us, surely.”

When asked if he thinks it is too soon for the film to be made, he said: “I don’t know about the too soon business.

“I think if it was made in 30 years time, a film about a white saviour and not about the people who were devastated is just perpetuating the story about us and not about them.”

Smythe said a lot of the people who were affected by the mosque attacks were already vulnerable.

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

“To tell a story about Jacinda Ardern in the face of that is probably inappropriate.”

Hollywood does have a history of glorifying and making heroes of white saviours, he said.

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

Meanwhile, producers of the movie will carry out more consultation talks with all of the victims and their families from the fateful day.

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

The movie has faced controversy over the past few days, with members of the public saying it is too soon for one of New Zealand’s most tragic days to be depicted on the big screen.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has also said it still feels “very raw”.

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