In the film, Rose Byrne is set to star as Ardern, the Hollywood Reporter confirmed last week. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film is described as an “inspirational story about the young leader’s response to the tragic events,” positioning the prime minister as the film’s protagonist.
“‘They Are Us’ is not so much about the attack but the response to the attack … how an unprecedented act of hate was overcome by an outpouring of love and support,” Andrew Niccol, the film’s writer and director said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter.
The focus on Ardern is partly what inspired the National Islamic Youth Association of New Zealand to start a petition to halt production of the film.
“Any story that is to be told about March 15 should be told through the lens of the Muslim community and capture the lived experiences of racism, discrimination and Islamophobia that Muslims face globally,” Qur’aan told RNZ in an interview on Monday.
Ardern affirmed in a statement that she was not involved with the film.
“There are plenty of stories from March 15 that could be told, but I don’t consider mine to be one of them,” she said in the statement, obtained by the Hollywood Reporter.
CNN reached out for comment to reps for Byrne, Niccol and Campbell, Ardern’s office, production company FilmNation and National Islamic Youth Association and is waiting to hear back.