An incredible video of a young hero Syrian boy fearlessly braving sniper fire to rescue a young girl was posted to YouTube Monday and immediately went viral, rolling up more than 2.7 million YouTube views and receiving worldwide media coverage, including here on The Inquisitr.
The coverage was understandable — the video was amazing and powerful, and the difficulties of verifying the source of YouTube videos from inside war zones such as Syria can be insurmountable.
But sadly, the video is a fake.
The dramatic footage, viewable above, appeared to be shot on a cell phone or other low-budget video recording device. But in reality, the video was filmed not in Syria, but in Malta by a professional filmmaking crew, using paid actors, the video’s director confessed on Friday.
In fact, admitted 34-year-old Oslo, Norway-based director Lars Klevberg, the short film was shot in May on a movie set that had previously been used for the Hollywood historical epics Troy and Gladiator.
The closest thing to authenticity in the hoax video are the background voices, which belong to Syrian refugees now living in Malta, Klevberg told the BBC.
Why perpetrate such a hoax? Klevberg said his motivation was to “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.”
At least for the latter part, he seems to have received his answer.
Numerous fake videos have emerged from inside the bloody, ongoing Syrian cvil war, but most are produced as covert propaganda, not as a social experiment with the backing of the Norwegian government, as Klevberg had. In a Twitter post, he said that his film was supported by The Norwegian Film Institute and the Arts Council of Norway.
Klebverg said he hoped to “send small clues” that the film was a put-on by including scenes of children surviving what, if real, would have been fatal gunshots.
Experts on the tragic Syria conflict were not enthusiastic about Klevberg’s fake Syrian hero boy video.
“I think the filmmakers have been highly irresponsible, have contributed nothing to the debate about violence against civilians in Syria, and have only created more distrust in videos from conflict zones,” said Eliot Higgins, a British reporter who, according to the Global Post news site, “has perhaps watched more videos from Syria than anyone else.”
Syrian refugee Aboud Dandachi also disapproved of the Syrian hero boy hoax, which critics say will now detract from the real videos that come out of Syria, and which often provide the outside world with their only view of the conflict.
“Sometimes in Syria the only documentation of an atrocity is a mobile phone camera,” said Dandachi on his Twitter acount. “Thanks for making it harder a*****e.”
The Syrian hero boy video hoax did have a point, however. Between March 2011 and August 2013, 400 children were killed by snipers in Syria.