'They deserve better': Quebec’s Culture Minister pens appeal to Netflix over use of Lac-Megantic footage
Following Netflix’s refusal to remove footage of the Lac-Megantic rail disaster from its movie ‘Bird Box,’ Quebec’s Culture Minister, Natalie Roy, has penned her own appeal to the president of the streaming service.
Earlier this week, Netflix responded to a letter from Julie Morin, Mayor of Lac Megantic, asking for the footage to be pulled from the streaming service.
At least two dramas currently on Netflix's Canadian platform, including the hit "Bird Box," briefly use actual footage of the 2013 tragedy that killed 47 people.
Morin told The Canadian Press that she wanted the company to review its catalogue and remove the images.
While Netflix refused to remove the footage altogether, the streaming giant promised it would work with partners to ensure the footage will not be used in future productions.
The letter, sent to Reed Hastings - President and Director-General of Netflix - on Friday, Roy expresses disbelief and concern over the fact the footage was used in the first place.
“The deep scars left by the derailment of an oil train on the night of July 6th, 2013 are still present in the landscape of [Lac Megantic], a community of just 6,000 people,” the letter reads. “These archives should never been intended for use other than for information or documentary purposes. Under no circumstances should we tolerate the use of human tragedy of any kind for entertainment.”
“How would you react if you learned a multinational [company] was using images that conjure heavy and somber memories for pure profit?” Roy wrote.
The company that sold the stock footage of Lac-Megantic to another Netflix production, "Travelers," says it is saddened that images of the tragedy were used for entertainment.
Pond5 said in a statement that the footage of the disaster was taken out of context. The company says it is contacting all customers who purchased similar footage to ensure they are aware of the sensitivity of the content.
But Roy, in her letter, says this misstep opens the floor to other relevant questions about ethics in film production.
“By using the images of a real tragedy – the impact of which is still tangible – Netflix and its partners have crossed a dangerous line,” she writes. “By not clearly disclosing the source of these images, your company has somehow cheated, even betrayed, its millions of subscribers.”
“How can we be assured that other human tragedies will not be exploited in the future?”
The full statement can be read below:
Utilisation d’images de la tragédie de @VLacMegantic par @Netflix et ses partenaires: voici l’intégralité de la lettre que j’ai envoyée hier à son PDG @ReedHastings.@Netflix_CA #Netflix #LacMegantic #MCC #PolQc #AssNat pic.twitter.com/jaWRbdhRuZ— Nathalie Roy (@NathalieRoyCAQ) January 19, 2019
(With files from The Canadian Press)