A new film about New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern titled They Are Us is currently in the works and focuses on the PM’s dealing with the 2019 Christchurch attack. However, it’s been heavily criticised for centring the story on a white woman, when it was an attack on the Muslim community.

They Are Us will star Rose Byrne (who will play the Ardern), and will explore how the Labour government responded to the tragic terrorist attack that occurred on March 15, 2019. Andrew Niccol will write and direct the project (known for writing critically acclaimed films Gattaca and The Truman Show).

The project was announced today, and has already been slammed on Twitter for once again making POC the backdrop to a white person’s story, when it’s actually, their story to tell. Many members of the NZ Muslim community are still healing from the Christchurch terrorist attack and are outraged this film was given the green light, prompting the hashtag #TheyAreUsShutDown.

While some of the anger and outrage is directed at Jacinda Ardern, she is not actually involved in the movie. In fact, according to NZ Herald she is distancing herself from They Are Us altogether.

Niccol’s script was developed in consultation with several members of the mosques affected by the tragedy, according to Deadline. However, it will be interesting to see how much say they really had in the writing of the script.

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

“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.” 

Image: Getty Images / Mark Tantrum