The leaked They Are Us script which was to glorify Jacinda Ardern has terrified those who voted her into parliament after receiving Christchurch shooting welfare payoffs. Brenton Tarrant, radicalised after witnessing a world full of Islamic Terrorism, only stuck in NZ after seeing the Dunedin Mosque video. While everyone at the time said he could not have carried this out alone, the Royal Commission said he had no help from within New Zealand.
When you take into accounts earlier overseas reports of the shooting, it becomes clear that whoever wrote this script must have seen the video, so can’t have been a Kiwi.
Newshub has been leaked a copy of an early draft script of the planned Hollywood movie They Are Us, which contains a graphic reconstruction of the March 15 terror attack.
We have shown the version of the script obtained by Newshub to some of the victims, who describe it as worse than the terrorist’s livestream of the 2019 atrocity.
The 124-page script is currently being circulated in the international film industry with New Zealand-born writer Andrew Niccol telling Deadline last month: “They Are Us is not so much about the attack but the response to the attack”.
However, the leaked draft reveals:
- The attack takes place over 17 pages, which would translate to around 17 minutes on film – meaning it’d play out virtually in real-time
- 15 deaths are depicted in graphic detail, almost all of them named victims
- Many more woundings are also shown.
Salwa Mohamad’s husband Khaled and son Hamza Mustafa were murdered at the Al Noor Mosque. She has not been approached by the producers of They Are Us and is horrified at the idea of her loved ones featuring in the film.
“This is unacceptable,” Mohamad told Newshub.
“The movie is just like the livestream. It’s worse – worse than the livestream. It would encourage others to do the same, or even to make it better, to avoid the mistakes the terrorist made.
“I just want to ask the producers: if one of their loved ones was killed, would they like to see that and see how they died in a movie?”
After being contacted by Newshub, Mohamad asked to see the parts of the script her family members featured in.
On page 2, Khaled is depicted stroking a horse while watching Hamza playing with a soccer ball. But on that day, he wasn’t playing with his father – he was at school.
“They are changing the facts. They are making their own facts. It’s not true what I read in that scene,” Mohamad said.
On page 9, Khaled and Hamza are depicted dead together in the mosque – but in reality, Khaled died inside but his son died outside.
“They didn’t die together in the mosque, so they are not telling the truth at all in the movie,” Mohamad said.
Newshub decided to reveal parts of the draft They Are Us script, which we have heavily censored, to give the New Zealand public a sense of the project.
In addition to family members of victims murdered in the terror attack, before publishing this story Newshub consulted with the Imams of both mosques targeted by the terrorist, the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, the New Zealand Islamic Women’s Council and the 15th March Whānau Trust, which is composed of 78 affected whānau of shuhada and bullet wounded victims.
The terrorist’s first appearance in the script is halfway down page 1 – about 30 seconds into the film:
The script then switches straight to Jacinda Ardern speaking at a climate change protest at the same time.
Then there’s another flash of the gunman:
The script repeatedly shows glimpses of the terrorist:
The first death is written to be filmed from a “low, oblique angle” with the victim seen “falling towards camera” before their body “wipes the frame to black”.
Naeem Rashid was one of the heroes on March 15 – he tried to grab the gun from the terrorist. But the They Are Us draft script has him killed without doing that.
Widow Ambreen Naeem wanted to read her family’s part of the script too – she then described it as “distressing and retraumatising”.
“It’s unethical, totally immoral and unacceptable,” she added.
Some of the deaths are intended to be shown with large amounts of blood – including Tahla Naeem, son of Ambreen and Naeem.
“I was trembling when I read it. It’s very horrifying and I can’t believe someone could even create this,” said Tahla’s younger brother Abdullah.
Tahla died saving another worshipper and Abdullah said the script has details wrong there too.
“Hollywood has no right to portray them as they see fit,” he said.
“He was my dad and my brother and they can’t just create a false narrative out of it to make money.”
The synopsis of They Are Us, released publicly by the producers said: “In a mirror of New Zealand’s own approach, during the film the gunman is never shown and his name is never spoken.”
But there is a constant presence of his silhouette and a director’s note in the script saying “the lack of clear visual context for the gunman somehow makes the event more shocking, more frightening – mostly what we are left with is the brutality of the sound of unrelenting GUNFIRE”.
Maha Elmadani’s father Ali Elmadani was murdered in Al Noor Mosque. His name is not in the script, but she wanted to see how the terrorist was depicted.
“The words they use in keeping the face in darkness and all that it just adds to the notoriety,” she told Newshub.
“It just makes this whole thing more obvious that the point of this movie is to create a big drama and turn this into some kind of horror movie.
“I don’t see how it’s any different to the livestream.”
Salwa Mohamad fears what a movie based on this script will do for other white supremacists.
“It will inspire them, and encourage them to do it again and again,” she said.
As for the March 15 terrorist?
“He will be very proud of himself. And he will think that he won. And that will add to his notoriety,” Mohamad said.
She’s raising a teenage boy who was shot and wounded in the terror attack and is fearful he might see the movie.
“He was there, he was injured. He witnessed everything. It will be very hard,” Mohamad said.
“I think it’s a very bad idea to make a movie and earn money from our pain.”
The producers of They Are Us have pointed out that the script is still in development and is subject to change.
Newshub can reveal the script was not taken to the Cannes Virtual Market as was planned when it was announced in June.
We have sent Andrew Niccol a list of questions about this story through his agency CAA – but have not yet had a response.
However, in response to our questions, Dubai-based producer Ayman Jamal told Newshub “any victim family who does not want to share their story we… will not mention or showcase their loved ones’ stories”.
But that is not good enough for the family members Newshub spoke with for this story. They believe the movie will do too much harm however it’s made and are considering legal action.