We have previously discussed how filmmakers are releasing fake videos such as the recent profiling video out of New York — a practice that is not only dishonest but highly counterproductive for groups seeking to address such abuses. Now it appears that a moving video of a Syrian boy heroically rescuing a little girl under fire is a fake, but director Lars Klevberg, 34, is heralding his hoax as a wonderful success and is entirely unapologetic for misleading millions of people.
It turns out that the video was entirely staged in Malta by Klevgerg, who is based out of Oslo. He appears entirely clueless to not only the inherent dishonesty of his actions but how such fake films undermine real reporters and filmmakers in war zones. It allows abusive regimes to say that films are just another staged event like Klevgerg’s film and that you cannot believe what you see on such sites. Millions of people are less likely to be as motivated or outraged with the next film after being tricked by Klevgerg and his crew.
Klevberg however is overjoyed by the success of his hoax and the attention that it attracted: “If I could make a film and pretend it was real, people would share it and react with hope.” More like outrage first at the snipers and then at Klevgerg.
Klevberg insisted that “By publishing a clip that could appear to be authentic we hoped to take advantage of a tool that’s often used in war; make a video that claims to be real. We wanted to see if the film would get attention and spur debate, first and foremost about children and war. We also wanted to see how the media would respond to such a video.”
Of course, it shows that anything can be faked (hardly news to anyone) and gives regimes like the Syrian dictatorship a wonderful example to use in denying the authenticity of future films. Those films are the work of real heroes: filmmakers and journalists who put themselves at great risk to capture true images as opposed to Klevberg who sits in Malta and has a cast party after filming a hoax.
Various groups has denounced Klevberg and the Norwegian Film Institute that funded his hoax.
The other people involved in this hoax like producer John Einar Hagen seem equally clueless over their unethical conduct: “We had long discussions with the film’s financiers about the ethics around making a film like this.” Really? What ethicist told them that it is really ok to fake such scenes and make people believe that you were in a war zone?
For her part, NFI film commissioner Ase Meyer insisted “It was not a cynical way to get attention. They had honest motivations.” Wow, honest motivations in filming a dishonest film and releasing a hoax.
The team appears to be saying different things in the aftermath of the disclosure of the hoax. After allowing international outrage for weeks, they finally admitted that the film is a fake. Some are saying that they thought it was clear that it was staged. However, that contradicts the obvious point of releasing the film. If it was clearly marked as a “staged event,” why explore the ethical issues? No one would object to a filmed scene that is clearly make believe. Moreover, Klevberg expressly stated that he wanted to film something that looked authentic.
Ms. Meyer insists that while her group funded the fake film, it had no responsibility to disclose the hoax. She is quoted as saying that she encouraged them to disclose it was fiction and then did nothing. She must consult with the same ethicist used by the filmmakers.