Quebec minister takes Netflix to task for using Lac-Mégantic images in TV show, movie

In the letter, written in French, Nathalie Roy said she wanted to inform Netflix of the government’s “astonishment” and “disappointment” with the choice to use scenes from the Quebec town’s burning downtown core.

Nathalie Roy wrote a letter to Netflix president to voice the government's displeasure

Nathalie Roy wants the images of Lac-Mégantic removed from two Netflix productions as soon as possible. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

Quebec's culture minister has made public a letter addressed to the president of Netflix, admonishing the entertainment company over its two productions that used footage from the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster.

Nathalie Roy said she wanted to inform Netflix of the government's "astonishment" and "disappointment" with the choice to use scenes from the Quebec town's burning downtown core.

She asks that the images be removed as soon as possible. The letter was written in French and copies were also sent to Premier François Legault, François Jacques, MNA for Mégantic, and Julie Morin, the mayor of Lac-Mégantic.

"These archives should never be used for any purpose other than for news or documentaries. We should never tolerate the use of human tragedies, whatever they are, for entertainment. It's not moral or ethical," it reads.

Earlier this week, Netflix confirmed footage of the 2013 train derailment and explosion that killed 47 people, used to depict a fictional disaster in its popular movie Bird Box, will not be removed from the film, despite residents in the Quebec town saying it trivializes the tragedy.

Another Netflix production, Travelers, used the same footage in a recent episode.

The production company behind that show, Peacock Alley Entertainment, has since apologized, saying in a statement it "had no intention to dishonour the tragic events of 2013," and that it will try to replace the images.

The images were shot on a cellphone the night of the disaster and sold by Pond5, a stock footage company.

A still from the Netflix series Travelers uses footage from the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster. The show's producers have apologized and will edit out the images. (Netflix/Radio-Canada)

In the letter, Roy asks how Reed Hastings, the president of Netflix, would feel if one of his loved ones had died in a tragedy and a multinational company used the images for profit.

"We can only deplore such a lack of compassion, empathy and solidarity toward all the people affected by this horrible event."

Roy's press attaché turned down a CBC interview request, saying the letter is a gesture of solidarity and support for the people of Lac-Mégantic.

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