Over 40,000 People Sign Petition To Shut Down Jacinda Ardern Film About The Christchurch Attack

The proposed film, titled 'They Are Us' has led to #TheyAreUsShutDown trending for days.


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On Thursday it was announced that a film about the New Zealand government’s response to the Christchurch Massacre was in the works, starring Australian actor, Rose Byrne as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The film titled They Are Us would follow Jacinda Ardern’s leadership during the 2019 attack on a Christchurch mosque that claimed the lives of 52 Muslims.

The proposed film has been met with nothing short of condemnation. A petition currently sitting at over 47,000 signatures is demanding the film be shut down. The hashtag, #TheyAreUsShutdown was also trending for several days.

Ardern herself addressed the film’s content and backlash saying, “While it’s for the community to speak for themselves, it’s my view March 15 [2019] remains very raw for New Zealand,” she said in a statement. “There are plenty of stories from March 15 that could be told, but I don’t consider mine to be one of them.”

The title, They Are Us, refers to the mantra taken from Ardern’s powerful speech describing the New Zealand Muslims who were victims of the attack. Even at the time, many New Zealand Muslims feared the use of ‘they’ was still othering them, and would be used to center others in the tragedy.

“There are families still fighting the government and ACC for compensation. Others who feel silenced and ignored by police, intelligence and a Royal Commission that failed to hold anyone to account,” writes Mohamed Hassan of survivors of the attack in RNZ.  “There were times when ‘They Are Us’ felt hollow. A promise made but not kept. A pat on the back for a job not yet done.”

Hassan summarised the New Zealand Muslim, and general Muslim community’s anger at the film succinctly. They write, “In its essence, it is a story about an act of white supremacy that is centred around white voices, white feelings and white heroism.”

Along with Jacinda Ardern and her government’s distancing from the film and calls for the film to be shut down, Maori activist Kera O’Regan has also called for direct action. “Say no to them using your locations. Say no to hiring gear. Say no to being talent. Say no to being crew. Say no to interviewing them or promoting on your media platforms,” they tweeted.

The islamophobic Christchurch attack of 2019 saw the lives of over 50 Muslims lost. While Jacinda Ardern’s actions as a leader were admirable, it is an act devoid of empathy to make the hate crime and loss of life that occurred that day a backdrop to another woman’s story.