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French Network Postpones Romance Film Set Against Backdrop Of A Terrorist Attack

People in front of the Bataclan during ceremonies across Paris marking the second anniversary of the terror attacks of November 13, 2015.
Stephane De Sakutin
AFP/Getty Images
People in front of the Bataclan during ceremonies across Paris marking the second anniversary of the terror attacks of November 13, 2015.

The broadcast premiere of a French romance film about a couple who fall in love in the wake of a deadly 2015 terrorist attack in Paris, has been postponed after an online petition called for "respect" of victims and survivors.

Airing of Ce soir-là, or That Night, has been put on hold by the government-owned France 2 television network after the petition garnered 39,000 signatures. The online movement against the film was started by a woman who says she is the widow of a man who died at the Bataclan music hall along with 89 others on the night of Nov. 13, 2015.

"We need silence, modesty, dignity, respect ... and not a fiction," reads the petition. The film "hurts us," and "We are scandalized that such [a project] ... could see the light of day so soon after this violent event," it says.

A synopsis of the film provided to NPR by France 2 describes it as following the lives of a woman, Irene, who lives behind the Bataclan, and Karan, an Afghan man who fled Taliban rule 30 years prior.

After Irene and Karan help the wounded escape from the music hall attack, they come, the survivors are "eager to meet the strangers" that helped them. As the pair go "from meeting to meeting," they fall in love. However, the film questions whether the couple's love is "just an illusion, invented to compensate for the trauma they experienced together."

In a statement, the network says no release date was planned for Ce soir-là and that the channel's management has yet to view it. The project has been postponed while its producers consult groups representing the attack's victims, according to the statement.

In an interview with NPR, Isabelle Delecluse, a representative for the network, said filming on Ce soir-là wrapped on Thursday.

It is reportedly not the only fictional film in development that addresses the 2015 attacks in Paris. Violent Delights, a film that follows an American punk band, two painters and a young immigrant before and during the attack, began production this past summer, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

That film's American band was no doubt inspired by The Eagles Of Death Metal — the actual American rock band that was performing at the Bataclan when the attack took place. Nos Amis, a documentary for HBO directed by Colin Hanks, followed the band in the wake of the attack and as it geared up to return to France three months later. That film was also reportedly criticized by a family member of one victim.

This year there were two major attacks on music events, with a third reportedly foiled by police. The Manchester Arena bombing in May, timed to coincide with the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert, killed 22 and wounded dozens more. The Route 91 Harvest Festival, which took place in Las Vegas in October took the lives of 58, becoming the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. Between Manchester and Las Vegas, a concert in August at Rotterdam venue Maassilo was canceled following a police tip of an impending terror attack.

In the wake of Paris, Manchester and Las Vegas, security experts say there is no perfect plan that will protect each event; each of the three attacks were coordinated in site-specific ways. However, experts also urge increased cooperation between event security and local law enforcement as an important way to increase awareness.

"We want folks to come out, we want you to enjoy yourself," Austin Chief of Police Brian Manley told a news conference just ahead of the Texas city's Austin City Limits festival, scheduled to take place shortly after the Las Vegas shooting. But, he continued, "we live in a world now where you cannot protect against every single threat."

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