Moms seek to end movie plans for Bathurst High School basketball tragedy

Real human tragedies have provided source material for movies and television from the earliest days of these media but modern sensitivities have begun to complicate the work of those who want to bring these stories to the screen.

The latest is an effort by the families of a New Brunswick basketball team who died in a wintry crash in 2008 to stop production of a made-for-TV movie about the tragedy.

The Canadian Press reports Isabelle Hains and Ana Acevedo have been campaigning for weeks to can the project.

"We're dealing with everyday life as best we can and having this movie is tormenting us and bringing back our feelings that we kept inside," Hains told CP's Kevin Bissett.

Memories of the 2008 van crash that killed seven members of the Bathurst High School Phantoms basketball team and the coach's wife are still raw. The van, driven by the coach, crossed the centre line on an icy road and hit an oncoming transport truck.

The crash and subsequent inquest raised concerns about the kinds of vehicles schools used and the qualifications of those who drove them, questions raised by the victims' relatives.

But while the families have been front and centre in lobbying for regulatory changes, they're drawing the line at reliving the tragedy via a TV movie.

"Let me get old and grey and senile before they do this movie so I don't remember," said Hains, who lost her 17-year-old son Daniel.

Last month, Dream Street Pictures, based in Fredericton, and the CBC announced plans for a movie centred on the Phantoms' first provincial basketball championship in 50 years the year after the crash. The movie is being billed as a "heart-warming" small-town drama. But Hains said it exploits the death of the boys.

"If our children were not killed . . . they wouldn't be making this movie now," she said.

Hains and Acevedo have approached the New Brunswick Ombudsman to try to rescind permission to allow filming at Bathurst High. They've also begun a campaign to pressure the province to withdraw a film tax credit worth up to $250,000.

It's not unusual these days for films about notorious crimes to spark an uproar.

A 2005 U.S. film loosely based on serial killer Robert Pickton has never been officially released in Canada.

Karla, a 2006 American thriller based on the grisly crimes of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka triggered an enormous backlash led by the families of the serial killers' victims but the film was eventually released.

(CP Photo)