BASED ON TRUE EVENTS

Oscar Pistorius’ family is suing a US cable TV channel over its “Blade Runner Killer” film

Quartz africa
Quartz africa

The family of disgraced blade runner Oscar Pistorius is taking legal action over a film about the athlete’s murder of his late girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

The movie, titled Oscar Pistorius: Blade Runner Killer, was made by Lifetime, an American entertainment channel, and is due to premiere in the US on Nov. 11. The plot focuses on Steenkamp’s killing on Valentine’s Day in 2013 and the subsequent court case which ultimately found Pistorius guilty of murder.

In a statement, Carl Pistorius, the Paralympic and Olympic athlete’s brother, says the family was not consulted during the production of the film. Pistorius says the film is a “gross distortion of the findings of the court” and was not a “true reflection” of events. Similarly, Steenkamp’s family says it was “not approached or consulted at all, and did not participate or endorse the movie in any way.”

Pistorius gained global acclaim back in 2012 at the London Olympics when he became the first amputee runner to compete at the Olympic Games. But much of the public goodwill he enjoyed following that landmark soon dissipated in the aftermath of Steenkamp’s killing.

For his part, Pistorius has long claimed that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder in his Pretoria home. However, after a seven month-long televised trial followed by appeals, Pistorius was eventually sentenced to six years in prison after being found guilty of murder. The sentence was criticized as lenient but Thokozile Masipa, presiding judge in the case, is believed to have deviated from the prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years because Pistorius was a first-time offender.

It’s unclear if Pistorius’ family have seen the film in full but the family’s statement suggests they particularly object to the athlete’s description as having the “heart of a champion” and “mind of a killer” in the released trailer. “Oscar was subjected to a month long psychological evaluation which was insisited upon by the prosecution,” the statement read. “At no stage was Oscar found to have the mind of a killer.”

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