The news of Rose Byrne playing New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a film about the 2019 horrific Christchurch Shooting has been making rounds. Reports of an upcoming Hollywood film about the aftermath of the terror attack starring has irked many, causing backlash and outrage on social media.

The film is based on Ardern’s response to the tragic events and the way her government handled the crisis. The choice of the main narrative and focus has left people uneasy with the spotlight being on the Prime Minister over the victims and their families.

Reports of the project immediately drew backlash, with online commentators dubbing the idea “sickening” and “exploitative”.

They Are Us is set to be written and directed by Kiwi Andrew Niccol. The choice of a white director making a movie centred around a terror attack inspired by white supremacy drew criticism. Furthermore, people accused the movie of having a “white saviour mentality” by choosing to focus on the white actors in the situation at the cost of ignoring the brown and Muslim victims of the attack. 

“They Are Us is not so much about the attack but the response to the attack…how an unprecedented act of hate was overcome by an outpouring of love and support,” said Niccol. “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.”

“We are thrilled to bring to the market this inspiring true story about the positive impact, even in the darkest of moments, a strong leader can have on their constituents’ lives when they work from a place of compassion, love and an unwavering conviction to do what is right,” said FilmNation CEO Glen Basner.


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