Online Backlash As Jacinda Ardern Is The ‘Star’ Of Christchurch Terror Attack Film

by : Daniel Richardson on : 11 Jun 2021 11:59
Online Backlash As Jacinda Ardern Is The ‘Star’ Of Christchurch Terror Attack FilmPA Images

People have been angered by a cinematic adaptation of the Christchurch terror attack that will focus on New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The 2019 Christchurch terror attacks shocked the world. Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a man who reportedly had white supremacist connections, streamed the killing of 51 people within two mosques. As a result of the terrorist attack, New Zealand enforced bans on assault rifles and military-style semi-automatics.


They Are Us, a film about the attack that takes its title from the speech made by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern following the events, is currently in development. However, many are concerned about the focus of the film, which seemingly won’t be the Islamic community who were targeted.

Christchurch (PA Images)PA Images

Despite Ardern and her government stressing they have no connection or involvement in the film, the feature will focus on the prime minister.

According to Hollywood Reporter, the film ‘will tell the story of how Ardern rallied New Zealand following the terror attacks on two mosques in 2019 with a message of compassion and unity, and helped push through a ban of assault rifles’.


Andrew Niccol, who is writing and directing the title, has discussed the film in broader terms, saying:

The film addresses our common humanity, which is why I think it will speak to people around the world. It is an example of how we should respond when there’s an attack on our fellow human beings.

However, the announcement that Rose Byrne has been cast as Ardern has sparked a backlash, with people saying that the film should focus on Islamic stories and not the prime minister.


Charlotte Graham-McLay gave her thoughts on the upcoming film, writing:

You can tell how far removed this film is from the community affected and from New Zealand itself by (1) THE NAME and (2) anyone thinking Jacinda Ardern was the main character.

It has been reported that the film, which focuses on the reaction to the attack, was written with consultation from several members of the mosques affected by the tragedy. Nonetheless, many feel this film’s approach is insensitive.

In response, writer and community advocate Guled Mire told The Guardian that the approach is ‘completely insensitive’. Mire also added that the news shocked those impacted by the news of the film’s focus, saying, ‘It’s hit all of us out of the blue, any victims themselves haven’t even heard of this.’


Featured Image Credit: PA Images

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Daniel Richardson

After graduating from university, Dan went on to work with a variety of tech startups and media outlets. Through working with the likes of Game Rant, The Hook and What Culture, Dan pursued his interests in technology. The skills he picked up along the way are now being utilised with UNILAD.

Topics: News, Christchurch, Film, New Zealand, Now


The Guardian
  1. The Guardian

    Move to make Christchurch massacre film all about Jacinda Ardern sparks anger