- Egyptian producer Moez Masoud says the movie would be part of a ‘healing process’ to help people better understand the causes of hatred and racism
- A Christchurch Muslim group says it’s not the right time
The project, to be called Hello Brother, will be about a family of refugees that flees Afghanistan for the safety of Christchurch, only to get caught up in the carnage, Egyptian producer Moez Masoud told Variety magazine in Cannes.
“In Christchurch, on March 15, the world witnessed an unspeakable crime against humanity,” Masoud said, adding members of his team were currently in New Zealand to meet survivors and families of the victims.
“The story that Hello Brother will bring to audiences is just one step in the healing process so that we might all better understand each other, and the root causes of hatred, racism, supremacy and terrorism.”
We have not had any proposal such as this presented to us nor have we agreed to it.
The title is based on the words of welcome spoken by an elderly Afghan man, as he greeted the gunman at the doors of the Al Noor mosque. He was shot dead, but his words were taken up around the world as a rallying call against hate.
News of the production was announced on the second day of the Cannes Film Festival, two months after the bloodshed.
Masoud co-wrote the script and the film is being produced by his Acamedia Pictures.
Reacting to the announcement, the Christchurch-based Muslim Association of Canterbury, which represents Islamic organisations in the region, told local media it was too soon for a film to be made.
“[It] will probably inflame the situation at this stage,” president ShagafKhan told news website Stuff.
“Whatever the reality in front of us, why do we need to repeat it again?” he questioned.
In a message on its Facebook page, the association informed the public “no discussion” took place and “no proposal was made to us”.
“We have not had any proposal such as this presented to us nor have we agreed to it,” the organisation wrote, although one man had visited the mosque the day before with “vague ideas” about filming something.
“We cannot stop such projects going ahead if filmmakers choose to embark on them, but the Muslim Association of Canterbury regards the dignity and privacy of our community and the dignity of those whose lives were taken as paramount,” it said.
On social media, some New Zealanders criticised the film project.
“We were all bombarded with the viral video, now we have to watch it reenacted? It’s shameful,” said Twitter user Jason Lei Howden. “It gives the killer what he wanted: fame and notoriety.”
The film announcement on Wednesday came as Facebook said it would tighten access to its live-streaming feature, as New Zealand Prime Minister
and French leader Emmanuel Macron prepared to launch a “Christchurch Call” initiative to tackle the spread of violence and extremism online.
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has been under intense pressure in the wake of the terror attack, in which the attacker used Facebook Live to stream his rampage at the mosques.
There is a lot more work to do, but I am pleased Facebook has taken additional steps today.
The social network said it would ban Facebook Live users who shared extremist content and seek to reinforce its own internal controls to stop the spread of offensive videos.
“Following the horrific recent terrorist attacks in New Zealand, we’ve been reviewing what more we can do to limit our services from being used to cause harm or spread hate,” Facebook vice-president of integrity Guy Rosen said in a statement.
“There is a lot more work to do, but I am pleased Facebook has taken additional steps today,” Ardern said in a statement.
She and Macron will later issue their Christchurch Call to fight the spread of hateful and terror-related content – along with leaders from Britain, Canada, Norway, Jordan and Senegal – who will also be in Paris.
The largely symbolic initiative is intended to keep up the pressure on social media companies who face growing calls from politicians across the world to prevent their platforms from becoming stages for broadcasting extremist violence.
“We need to get in front of this [problem] before harm is done,” Ardern told CNN in an interview in France on Wednesday. “This is not just about regulation, but bringing companies to the table and saying they have a role too.”