Neighbors actress Rose Byrne's latest project is drawing some major controversy. The film, entitled They Are Us, is set to focus on New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and cover the horrific Christchurch terrorist attack that occurred on March 15, 2019. Since the project was announced the backlash has been strong, with many arguing that it's far too soon to use such a terrible moment in history for entertainment. A petition has been made on Change.org that has earned over 70k signatures, and one of the film's producers even pulled out of the project in response to the public's pushback.
According to detractors, the film focuses on the response of one white woman instead of the victims, and Ardern released a statement explaining that she has not been consulted by the filmmakers in any way about the project. Additionally, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel has come out strongly against the project and stated that the production crews would not be welcome in the city for filming.
Most recently, the family of one of the attack's victims has written an open letter to Byrne asking her to reconsider the project. Kyron Gosse, whose aunt Linda Armstrong was shot dead at the Linwood Islamic Centre by an Australian terrorist during the attack, penned the plea in an attempt to get those working on the film to understand that the families still need time to heal.
"It was only 27 months ago that our country was thrown into shock and turmoil," Gosse wrote. "It was only 27 months ago that I had to google my aunt's name to see if she was alive or dead. It was only 27 months ago that I stood in her grave, lowering her lifeless body into the ground. Please, give us time. It was only 15 months ago that the one-year remembrance was cancelled by the onset of Covid. It was only 15 months ago that our family was forced to flee back home as borders shut, destroying our healing process. It was only 15 months ago that the terrorist pleaded guilty. Please give us time. It was only nine months ago that I stood face to face with the terrorist in the Christchurch High Court to deliver my victim impact statement. It was only seven months ago that the Royal Commission's report was released detailing that the terrorist's intentions should have been picked up by our intelligence agencies. It was only two months ago that the gunman requested a court appearance to challenge his designation as a terrorist."
"This story is far from over and for the families involved, we still live it every single day," Gosse entreated Byrne. "Please, give us time. Two years is far too soon to be talking about Hollywood movies. In contrast: It took 85 years to release the Titanic movie. It took 16 years to release a 9/11 movie. It took six years to release the Deepwater Horizon movie. The time will come for this story to be told. When the right time does arrive, it is important that the right story is told, a story that focuses on the true heroes of the day. Now is not the time, and this is not the story. Please, turn down the role and give us time to heal."