The planned film “They Are Us,” starring Rose Byrne as New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern and centered on the Christchurch mosque shootings that took place in 2019, has been put on hold following unauthorized distribution of the script. Director Andrew Niccol (“Gattaca,” “Good Kill”) shared a statement with New Zealand outlet Newshub that development would be paused after criticisms that the script, which he also wrote, was insensitive. (Via The Guardian.)

“I am deeply saddened by the pain caused to the families of the victims, due to the wrongful distribution of our draft script for ‘They Are Us.’ The script is far from final, and never intended to be shared with the affected members of the Muslim community at such an early stage,” Niccol said, adding that pre-production wouldn’t continue until there is “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. All scenes in the script are placeholders until we have completed further consultation with the families,” he said.

The film had already sparked frustration and outcry from among the Muslim community of New Zealand earlier in the summer, with criticisms that the premise was “obscene” and “insensitive.” It centers around Ardern’s response to the attack.

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