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The Audio and Visual Fund/Arts Council Norway and The Norwegian Film Institute Issue Statements on “Syrian Hero Boy”

November 19, 2014

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

Following the publication of the Open Letter to Lars Klevberg, The Norwegian Film Institute and Arts Council Norway, the Norwegian Film Institute has issued the following statement:

The Norwegian Film Institute strongly regret the impact Syrian Hero Boy may have for aid workers and journalists working in conflict areas.

The Norwegian Film Institute granted this film in October 2013. The film was valued as an artistic project, where fiction was embeded in an authentic framework. We advised the filmmakers they should announce the intention of the film shortly after it was launched, but unfortunately it took them too long before that information was published. The damage was done and the rest of the handling was unprofessional and reprehensible.

In the following we will evaluate our internal process and make sure that similar projects will be secured in a better way. This is important for the films and the filmmakers and it is important for us working at The Film Institute.

The Norwegian Film Institute will continue to grant projects that focus on important questions, and in that work will bring with us the experience we have now.

The Audio and Visual Fund/Arts Council Norway has released the following statement:

It is regrettable that film director Lars Klevberg did not announce sooner that the short film “Syrian Hero Boy” was in fact a publicity stunt, meant to generate a discussion about children in conflict zones.

– Lars Klevberg’s film received funding from The Audio and Visual Fund as it was considered artistically interesting and a project worthy of support with good artistic intentions. The main problem is that the filmmakers waited five days before revealing that the film was an art project with a specific goal and message, and not authentic footage from Syria. The result of this was that the means got in the way of the message, says the Chairman of The Audio and Visual Fund, Torbjørn Urfjell.
The project received 86 000 NOK in funding from The Audio and Visual Fund Film Committee in 2013.

See also the article (only in Norwegian) on The Audio and Visual Fund’s webpage: http://kulturradet.no/fond-for-lyd-og-bilde

The press release from the film-makers in response to the open letter can be found here.

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