Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Telegraph Journal: Moms ask watchdog to probe CBC's part in 'The Phantoms'

Film: Three Bathurst women whose sons died in van crash object to television movie

A4 SHAWN BERRY Telegraph-Journal

FREDERICTON - The mothers of three boys who died in a 2008 van crash in northern New Brunswick are asking the federal auditor general to probe the CBC's participation in a film about the tragedy's aftermath.

Click here to read article in Telegraph Journal

Isabelle Hains, Ana Acevedo, and Marcella Kelly - the mothers of Daniel Hains, Javier Acevedo and Nicki Kelly respectively - have objected to filming of The Phantoms, named after the Bathurst High School team. Their sons, along with four teammates and the coach's wife, died in the Jan. 12, 2008 crash when the van they were travelling in collided with a transport truck during a storm.

The three women are asking interim Auditor General John Wiersema to investigate whether the public broadcaster's participation in Fredericton-based Dream Street Pictures' made-for-television movie The Phantoms is ethical.

In their letter to the federal auditor general, the mothers say senior officials at the CBC "made a decision to support the development of this film without any consideration whatsoever to the inevitable outcry from the victims' parents and families."

Producers say the film will be about how the team and the community rallied after the tragedy and went on to win a provincial basketball title the next year.

In an interview Tuesday, Isabelle Hains said it's improper for the federal broadcaster to participate in "a feel-good movie based on the deaths of our children."

She doesn't want the film made anytime soon, pointing to the three-decade gap between the plane crash that claimed the lives of members of the Marshall University football team and the release of the 2006 motion picture about the aftermath of that incident.

"I've said it before, We Are Marshall - it took them 30 years to make that movie," she said. "Here we're three and a half years later."

"If we could stop this movie from being made and postpone it for years to come, this is all that we want to do right now."

Earlier this week, the mothers asked New Brunswick's auditor general to investigate the awarding of a $250,000 film tax credit for the production.

Jeff Keay, a spokesman for the CBC, said the process followed in the deal did not violate any of the CBC's own code of conduct or ethics rules.

"No, it doesn't. We've followed our usual process," he said in an email Tuesday evening.

Rick LeGuerrier, co-producer of the The Phantoms, says the filmmakers are sensitive to the subject matter.

"We're respectful of what is being expressed in the community," he said.

John McLaughlin, superintendent of District 15, has seen the script and said he was comfortable with the way the story is being told.

"That speaks a lot to us about the kind of support there is in the community of Bathurst," LeGuerrier said.

"We're going to tell this story with all of the abilities we have to be as respectful as possible and tell this wonderful story," he said.