Rose Byrne will star in “They Are Us,” a new drama about the aftermath of the Christchurch attacks on New Zealand’s Muslim community that will be written and directed by Andrew Niccol.
FilmNation Entertainment, the company behind “Late Night” and “Arrival,” will unveil the project to international buyers at the upcoming Cannes Virtual Market with CAA Media Finance submitting it to domestic and worldwide distributors.
Byrne will play New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The film is 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.”
The title, “They are Us” comes from a speech Ardern made describing the victims of the attack. The script was developed in consultation with several members of the mosques affected by the tragedy. The mass shootings occurred at mosques during Friday Prayer on 15 March 2019, with a lone gunman killing 51 people and injuring 40.
“‘They Are Us’ is not so much about the attack but the response to the attack,” Niccol said. “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.”
The film will be produced by Ayman Jamal, Stewart Till, Niccol, and Philippa Campbell. Production will take place in New Zealand.
Niccol, a New Zealand-born screenwriter and filmmaker, wrote the script for “The Truman Show” and wrote and directed “Gattaca.” Byrne’s credits include “Bridesmaids,” “Neighbors,” and “Insidious.” She next appears in Apple TV’s “Physical.”
“We are thrilled to bring to market this inspiring true story about the positive impact, even in the darkest of moments, a strong leader can have on their constituents’ lives when they work from a place of compassion, love, and an unwavering conviction to do what is right.” Said FilmNation CEO Glen Basner.
Niccol is repped by CAA; Byrne is repped by CAA and RGM Artists.