Last month at TIFF, I reviewed a film called Out of the Blue, about the massacre that took place in the quiet town of Aramoana, New Zealand in 1990. David Gray, a lifelong resident of the town whose mental health had been deteriorating for some time, snapped and killed 13 of his neighbors, including four young children. The film is extraordinarily well-done and handles the events of that awful day with considerable restraint; even so, it was difficult for me to watch, and I wasn't a part of the tragedy. Director Robert Sarkies, a New Zealander who lived in a town near Aramoana at the time of the massacre, was very aware of the need to be sensitive in making this film, and as part of the process he met with residents, allowed representatives of the victims to read the script before filming began, and agreed to the conditions the people of Aramoana requested, including that he not film within the town itself.
When Sarkies spoke before the screening of his film at TIFF about working with the people of Aramoana in the making of Out of the Blue, and noted that, for the most part, the people who thought the film shouldn't be made were people who weren't directly impacted by the tragedy. Several of the actual survivors, in fact, met with the actors who were playing them. The New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification has given the film an "R15" rating, and Chief Censor Bill Hastings has added a descriptive note that "violence and content may disturb."