June 13, 2021
White saviours out of place in Christchurch story
A Māori screen commentator says a proposed film about the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks shows the white saviour complex is alive and well in Hollywood.
Ella Henry says she has signed the Action Station petition against They Are Us, which is to be written and directed by New Zealander Andrew Niccol and to star Australian actress Rose Byrne as Jacinda Ardern.
Dr Henry says it’s a terrible idea and she would hate to think it would receive New Zealand Film Commission funding.
She backs Prime Minister Ardern’s opposition to the focus of the film.
"To make a film that focuses on her role rather than the extraordinary bravery and horrific experiences of the Muslim community in Christchurch is absolutely dreadful and is a symptomatic of the white saviour trope that percolates through much of Hollywood and unfortunately increasingly it looks like Australian cinema," she says.
Dr Henry says the phrase They Are Us was one that brought the country together after the centre of the March 15 massacres, and it should not be turned into a trite film title.
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