Jacinda Ardern 'deeply uncomfortable' with Christchurch terror attack film but won't shut it down or sign petition

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has revealed she is "deeply uncomfortable" with the controversial Christchurch terror attack film but says it's not her job to shut it down.

They Are Us was announced on Friday with Australian actress Rose Byrne set to play Ardern. It will focus on the response to the massacre at the mosques in which 51 people were murdered on March 15, 2019. 

However, the film has been strongly condemned over the weekend for exploiting the tragedy with commentators calling it "sickening", "insensitive" and "too soon".

A petition set up by the National Islamic Youth Association (NIYA) to shut the film down has already gathered over 55,000 signatures.

Speaking to The AM Show on Monday, Ardern revealed she found out about the movie on Thursday as people involved in the film had contacted the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage "as a courtesy".

However she said she was only told about the film generally, but now that she knows more she shares the same views expressed by hundreds of other Kiwis.

"[I share] much of the same sentiment that you have heard from others that it feels so raw for us all, not least the community. 

"My other reaction - at the time I was told generally about the film, but when I was told in more detail what it would likely focus on - my view was yes, there are stories to be told from March 15 but I don't consider mine to be one of them. I consider the stories that need to be told from the Muslim community."

One main issue many people have with the film is that it is believed to be largely focused on Ardern and her response to the attack, rather than the victims and their community.

The film has been criticised as an example of the white saviour mentality. 

Ardern told The AM Show she was particularly uncomfortable that the film would focus more on her.

"I think it is for the community to determine whether those are stories that at some stage they want told or not. But as everyone said, now feels very, very raw for everyone and again, I'm deeply uncomfortable by where the emphasis is."

However, Ardern said she won't shut down the film.

"It's not my job. People would be pretty outraged if I tried to stop movies generally that I didn't like being made," she said.

She also revealed she didn't think it was appropriate as a member of the Government to sign the petition.

Islamic Women's Council spokeswoman Anjum Rahman also condemned the film while speaking to The AM Show on Monday.

She said it's not only the wrong film to make, but it's also the wrong time to make it.

"I think if there is going to be a film at all it needs to be centred on the victims' families and those who were directly impacted."