11:23 - July 23, 2021
News ID: 3475315
TEHRAN (IQNA) – The director of a controversial film about the March 15 Christchurch terror attack in New Zealand said he is "deeply saddened by the pain" the movie has caused to the families of the victims.


However, Andrew Niccol put the hurt down to "the wrongful distribution of our draft script" for the film They are Us.

"The script was far from final, and never intended to be shared with the affected members of the Muslim community at such an early stage," Niccol said in a statement.

He said the development of the film was on hold "until full consultation with New Zealand's Muslim community has taken place".

"The sole purpose of the script, which was released without permission, was to gauge interest of potential financiers. It was given to them in the strictest confidence, and all were informed that this was not intended to be the final version," Niccol said.

"All scenes in the script are placeholders until we have completed further consultation with the families."

The draft script was castigated as a Hollywood rewrite of New Zealand history. It included 15 deaths and more woundings across 17 pages.

Last month Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke out against the movie project, saying it felt "very soon and very raw".

Ardern said she only found out about plans for the movie hours before the announcement was made.

"I have no involvement or no knowledge. It feels very soon and very raw for New Zealand.

"While there are many stories that should be told at some point, I don't consider mine to be one of them. They are community stories and family stories.

"It's not for me to tell people what they can and cannot do in the film-making community."

In a poignant piece published last month, award-winning journalist and poet Mohamed Hassan accused the movie industry of erasing the Muslim community from the narrative, and using them as "props".

"All of us were grateful for the beauty we witnessed in the days that followed, the empathy and warmth and shared grief we were able to experience as a country. It was a moment that shaped us, gave us a path forward through the darkness. But that process has not ended. We are not healed. We are not ready to move on, and the road is long and difficult," he wrote.

A petition to shut down the film about the Christchurch mosque attacks has nearly 75,000 signatures.

The National Islamic Youth Association started the petition, saying the movie sidelines the victims and survivors and instead centres on the response of a white woman.

"NIYA holds the position that the development of such a film does not represent the lived experiences of the Christchurch Muslim community, neither of the wider New Zealand Muslim community who have faced the horror and terror that the March 15 attack subjected them to," the petition states.

It calls on the funders, producers and New Zealand film industry to boycott the film, and urges Ardern to publicly denounce it.

The petition accuses the film of being "tokenistic" and says Niccol should not be the one to make it.



Tags: IQNA ، mosque ، attack ، Christchurch ، movie
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