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Families of US cinema shooting victims worried about Joker film

LOS ANGELES : Families involved in a 2012 cinema mass shooting in Colorado have asked the studio behind the new Joker film to help lobby for gun reform, expressing concern about its portrait of a mental breakdown that leads to violence.

In a letter to Warner Bros, the families of some of the victims also urged it to end any political contributions to candidates who take money from the National Rifle Association and to fund gun violence intervention programmes.

The letter does not ask for the movie to be withdrawn.

The letter comes before Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the Batman villain, opens here on Oct 3.

The psychological thriller nabbed the top award at the recent Venice Film Festival and has won plaudits for its disturbing depiction of a social outcast who wreaks violence.

Warner Bros said on Tuesday it had a long history of donating to victims of violence, including those in the Colorado shooting.

It said in a statement: "Neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind. It is not the intention of the film, the filmmakers or the studio to hold this character up as a hero."

Twelve people were killed and 70 wounded in a cinema during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, by a lone gunman who is now serving multiple life sentences.

One of those signatories, Mr Sandy Phillips, told The Hollywood Reporter he feared that even one person who is "on the edge, who is wanting to be a mass shooter, may be encouraged by this movie".

Phoenix, 45, told entertainment website IGN in an interview earlier this week: "I think we all are aware of these issues and we are concerned, and that is why we talk about it. I don't think that we can be afraid to talk about it." - REUTERS

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