New Zealand producer Philippa Campbell has said she will no longer be involved in the making of a controversial film on the Christchurch terror attacks, according to state-run media on Monday.
The movie, They Are US, is said to focus on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's response in the week following the March 15, 2019 attacks.
The move came after strong reaction from the Muslim community in the island nation, which said the focus on the prime minister, rather than the victims, is wrong, and it is just Hollywood profiting off the community's pain.
In a statement quoted by Radio New Zealand, Campbell said she deeply regrets the shock and hurt the announcement of the film has led to throughout New Zealand.
She said she listened to the concerns raised over recent days, and agrees that the events of March 15, 2019 are too raw for film at this time and does not wish to be involved with a project that is causing such distress.
Brenton Tarrant, an Australian white supremacist, killed 51 people and injured 40 more at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre. He was sentenced to life in prison last August without the possibility of parole, in a first such ruling ever handed down in New Zealand.
A petition to shut down the film’s production, launched by the National Islamic Youth Association of New Zealand, has also gained over 61,000 signatures over the past three days.
The association said the filmmaker sidelines the victims and survivors and instead centers on the response of a white woman.
Premier Ardern, while distancing herself from the project, said she was not consulted. "I have no involvement or no knowledge," she told TVNZ.
"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 filmmaking community."