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Netflix is under fire for using footage from a deadly 2013 rail disaster in Canada in at least one of its recent releases.
Early on in the hugely popular monster flick Bird Box, Sandra Bullock’s character Malorie and her sister Jessica—played by Sarah Paulson—watch a few brief clips of the news. The clips are used as a storytelling device to set the scene and inform viewers of the epidemic spreading across the planet. One of those clips, however, may have been taken from a real-life disaster.
Forty-seven people were killed in the Lac-Mégantic, Québec rail disaster on July 6, 2013. A train derailing dumped millions of gallons of gas into the center of a small Canadian town, starting a fire that consumed most of the downtown area.
When Julie Morin, the mayor of Lac-Mégantic, saw footage that appeared to be taken from this devastating incident in Bird Box, she was upset. “It’s hard enough for our citizens to see these images when they are used normally and respectfully on the news,” Morin told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). “Just imagine, to have them used as fiction as if they were invented.”
Netflix is investigating whether the footage in Bird Box was actually taken from the Lac-Mégantic disaster. They know for certain that the footage is shown in the latest season of Travelers. Netflix told Radio-Canada “it would update the episode to remove any footage from the disaster,” according to the CBC.
A representative from the production company for Travelers, Peacock Alley Entertainment, apologized in an interview with Radio Canada. “We were not aware where these images were from,” they said, according to the CBC. Peacock Alley President Carrie Mudd said the clip was obtained from a stock footage supplier called Pond5.
A spokesperson for Pond5, Tina Witoshkin, spoke to BuzzFeed News in an interview. The footage was “taken out of context and used in entertainment programming,” she said. Pond5 apologized to the victims and their families. Mudd told Buzzfeed that Peacock Alley Entertainment had “no intention to dishonour the tragic events of 2013.”
Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.