Rose Byrne has signed on to star in They Are Us, a drama revolving around the aftermath of the Christchurch attacks on New Zealand’s Muslim community in 2019. Andrew Niccol will direct the film, and Byrne will play New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The title comes from a speech Ardern made describing the victims of the attack. The script was reportedly developed in consultation with several members of the mosques affected by the tragedy. The mass shootings occurred during Friday Prayer on 15 March 2019, with a lone gunman killing 51 people and injuring 40.
The film is being described as “an inspirational story about the young leader’s response to the tragic events, and the remarkable achievements of her government and citizens who rallied behind her message of compassion and unity to ban assault rifles in New Zealand”.
Niccol, a New Zealand-born filmmaker who has directed films such as Gattaca and Lord Of War, said in a statement: “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.
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”.
Films like this usually focus on the attack itself – think Hotel Mumbai or World Trade Center – so it will be interesting to see how this revolves around the aftermath, especially in regards to gun control and the monitoring of white supremacist extremism. While the main subject looks to be Ardern, hopefully the film does justice to the Muslim community most devastated by the heinous attack.
Byrne played Gloria Steinem in FX’s Mrs. America last year, and also had a supporting role in Jon Stewart‘s political drama Irresistible. She’ll next be seen starring in dark comedy series Physical, which premieres next week on Apple TV+.