Rose Byrne is set to play Jacinda Ardern in a forthcoming drama about how the New Zealand prime minister successfully banned assault rifles in her country.
The film, titled They Are Us, follows the 2019 terrorist attack at two mosques in the city of Christchurch where 51 people were killed and 49 were injured.
At the time, Adern’s response to the shootings was praised around the world. In the weeks following the attack, she and the New Zealand parliament passed a ban on most semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles, as well as higher capacity magazines and parts that can convert guns into semiautomatic weapons.
The film’s title, They Are Us, is taken from Ardern’s speech describing the attack’s victims. In the same speech, she refused to name the perpetrators.
“Racism exists, but it is not welcome here,” Ardern said at the time. “An assault on the freedom of any one of us who practises their faith or religion, is not welcome here. Violence, and extremism in all its forms, is not welcome here.”
“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,” director Andrew Niccol, who wrote The Truman Show (1998), said in a statement. “The film addresses our common humanity, which is why I think it will speak to people around the world. It is an example of how we should respond when there’s an attack on our fellow human beings.”