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Press Release from Filmmakers Regarding “Syrian Hero Boy”

November 18, 2014

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

Tuesday 18th of November

Press release

This is in response to the attention we have received regarding the fictional YouTube- video ”Syrian hero boy.”

Despite our humane and good intentions, we would like to sincerely apologize for releasing this film as real and the outcome since the film’s release.

As filmmakers we take the complete responsibility for the distribution of the film and the handling of the aftermath since its release.

We didn’t take into consideration some of the advice we received from the Norwegian Film Institute, and we realize that we should have informed about this film being fiction earlier. In the application for support from the Audio and Visual Fund from Arts Council Norway, we also state that we would reveal sooner than we did. We were overwhelmed by the attention the film received in such a short amount of time, on the web and media, and we needed time to strategize the best way to handle it. During this process, too much time passed, and we sincerely apologize for that.

We have an enormous respect for reporters and humanitarian organizations working in areas of conflict and it was never our intention to reduce their credibility as reliable sources of vital information. If this film could in any way contribute to doing so, we would like to apologize. We understand that verifying material from war zones is extremely difficult, and we apologize deeply if our film could make this even more difficult.

The media does a phenomenal effort in documenting and relaying information about war conflicts. Despite these efforts, we have felt, based entirely on our own experience, that the hopelessness may have created a resignation among people. We had hoped that a positive angle would engage people to act on behalf of children affected by war. It was always our plan to inform the viewers that the film was fiction, creating a reflection among people that a “miracle” shown in the movie was too good to be true.

As filmmakers we have taken advantage of available tools for staging and distributing the film, which is not new in the arts- or the media. However, media and PR work is not our field of expertise and we handled the media strategy poorly.

We have received positive support for our project. Film and method have been discussed, but we see that we have overlooked potential risks our film and distribution of it could cause. For this, we are deeply sorry. The film should have never been released in such a way. We apologize the negative backlash in releasing this film as authentic.

We tried to focus on children as victims of war, an issue we feel very strongly about. We had the best intentions at heart.

Sincerely,
Director Lars Klevberg
Producers Petter Løkke, John E. Hagen

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3 Comments

  1. Mansour Omari

    I am working on documenting violating human rights in Syria The performance was poor enough that could not deceive me, but the harm you have done to Syrian children through this foolish action is beyond your limited knowledge would imagine.
    Please do not attempt Syria unless you understand it totally.

    Reply

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