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Producer quits after backlash over movie about Christchurch shooting

Writer: Heidi Hsia

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern's response after the tragedy was praised
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern's response after the tragedy was praised

15 Jun – A producer of an upcoming movie about the Christchurch terror has recently called it quits amid backlash against the project.

New Zealand producer Philippa Campbell released a statement on 14 June to announce her withdrawal from the movie, acknowledging that the events of the attack were too raw to be dramatised.

"I've listened to the concerns raised over recent days and I have heard the strength of people's views. I now agree that the events of March 15, 2019, are too raw for film at this time and do not wish to be involved with a project that is causing such distress."


The Christchurch shooting left 51 dead

She also added that she has been reflecting a lot about the project prior to her decision, stating that the focus on film business instead of the political and human context of the story was what led her to the said decision.

It is noted that it was recently announced that the movie would focus on New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern's response to the attacks rather than on the 51 Muslim victims who were killed by a white supremacist terrorist, prompting many to accuse it of playing to the "white saviour" narrative.

A petition to shut down the movie's production has already gathered over 60,000 signatures after members of the two mosques stated that they were blindsided by the film's announcement.


Jacinda Ardern was praised for her quick action following the tragedy

Ardern herself expressed no interest in the project, stating that the government has no involvement in the film and that making a movie about the said attacks felt very soon.

"There are plenty of stories from March 15 that could be told, but I don't consider mine to be one of them," she said.

On 15 March 2019, 51 people were killed - including 17 year-old Malaysian Muhammad Haziq Mohd Tarmizi, while 40 others were injured, when an Australian self-declared white supremacist named Brenton Tarrant opened fire on worshippers inside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, before continuing his terrorism to the Linwood Islamic Centre.

In a quick move, Ardern tightened gun laws and announced weeks of national mourning in solidarity with the Muslim communities.

The proposed film is to be written by Kiwi filmmaker Andrew Niccol with Rose Byrne to play Ardern.


Rose Byrne was announced to play Jacinda Ardern in the proposed movie

Cinema Online, 15 June 2021

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