Christchurch mosque attacks movie: Leaked ‘They Are Us’ script rewrites NZ history
The draft script of the planned movie on the March 15 mosque attacks has been called a Hollywood rewrite of New Zealand history.
A copy of the draft script – which centres on Jacinda Ardern and includes a graphic reconstruction of the deadly terrorist attacks on two Christchurch mosques – was leaked to Newshub.
The draft script included 15 deaths and more woundings across 17 pages.
Newshub asked lawyer Linda Clark to look at the political reaction to March 15 included in excerpts from 10 pages of the script.
“They’re writing a version of New Zealand history, but they’re writing it with an American sensibility,” Clark said.
Jacinda Ardern was represented as a “slender figure”. On the night after the attacks as she gets out of her bed “dressed in a slip” and looking out the window where she “breaks down” and “sobs alone”.
While Ardern is portrayed as politically strong, the script implies she needs reassurance from partner Clarke Gayford and then deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, Newshub reported.
“Has there ever been a day like today?” Ardern asks Peters in the script.
In te reo Māori, he says: “He kotuku reranga tahi,” which is subtitled as “the white heron only flies once”.
Clark told Newshub the script’s portrayal of Ardern was “emotional, objectifying and pretty sexist”.
“[The draft script] is written as if an American wrote it, for an American audience, with no understanding of how New Zealand looks at these issues and how our politicians behave.”
Peters called his part of the script “total nonsense” while Simon Bridges, also featured in the script, calling it “misleading” and “offensive”.
“Hollywood has had some great movies based on history, but sadly this won’t be one of them,” Peters told Newshub.
He said this was too serious of an issue for some “cheap Hollywood script” to try to make money out of.
“I suggest they withdraw from the scene if they don’t intend to be honest here.”
In the script, Bridges’ character is opposed to Ardern’s gun law reforms and is quoted as saying: “come for our guns, you might get bullets”. However, he supported the law change in real life.
“This is a misleading and dishonest Americanisation of what happened in our country,” he told Newshub.
In place of David Seymour, the script includes a character named “Solomon Marsh”, also against Ardern’s gun law changes.
New Zealand-born Andrew Niccol wrote the film script and Newshub sent questions to his agent, but is yet to receive a response.
Earlier, Newshub showed parts of the leaked script to three families who lost loved ones on March 15.
Ambreen Naeem – whose husband Naeem and son Talha were killed in the attacks – said the script was unethical, totally immoral and unacceptable.
“It’s quite distressing and retraumatising,” Ambreen told Newshub.
Maha Elmadani, who lost her father Ali in the attack, said she couldn’t see how a movie based on the draft script she saw excerpts of was any different from the livestream.
Salwa Mohamad, whose husband Khaled and son Hamza were murdered at Al Noor Mosque, said it was worse.
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