Canadians are furious over Netflix's use of real-life footage of a deadly oil-train disaster in two of the company's recent science fiction productions. The 2013 accident in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, involved an American-owned oil tanker train and left 47 people dead. It incinerated the community's historic downtown—video images of towering pillars of smoke and fire went viral on Youtube.
This winter, those images began appearing again on Canadian TV screens, not in newscasts or documentaries, but in sci-fi stories, including the hit alien invasion film Bird Box with Sandra Bullock. In the Bullock film, the Lac-Megantic images are part of a fake newscast that purports to show violent turmoil in Europe.
The clip appears briefly again in Travelers, a joint U.S.-Canadian sci-fi series about time-travelers, repurposed in a fake newscast describing a nuclear attack on London.
Lac-Megantic Mayor Julie Morin declined to speak with NPR, but provided a statement calling use of the video unethical.
"Those images are the representation of our city's worst day in history, a day from which we are still working hard to recover," Morin wrote. She called for the film industry to reconsider the use of footage taken from "real tragic human events" for fictional entertainment.