A viral video said to show a Syrian “hero boy” saving a young girl from gunfire was in fact fake, a group of Norwegian filmmakers has confessed.
The dramatic video shows a boy lying on the ground as gunfire shots ring out around him. He then gets up and runs to a burnt out car. He appears to be hit by sniper fire and falls to the ground. He gets back on his feet and runs towards the car where he is seen grabbing onto a girl’s arm and he pulls her away from the gunfire. Shouts of Allahu Akbar (God is great) can be heard from a group of men nearby, as the children appear to survive the attack.
The unidentified boy, who seemed to be risking his own life to save the terrified girl as he dodged bullets to pull her to safety, was hailed a hero.
However, a group of Norwegian filmmakers have now come forward, admitting they faked the video using professional child actors.
They explained the video was scripted and filmed in Malta over the summer as part of a social experiment to “spur debate”.
Lars Klevberg, a 34-year-old film director from Oslo, told BBC Trending he was “not uncomfortable” deceiving millions of people by presenting the film as real life footage, but wanted to see the reaction from the media and the public.
“We wanted to see if the film would get attention and spur debate, first and foremost about children and war,” he said. “We also wanted to see how the media would respond to such a video.”
The controversial project was funded by the Norwegian Film Institute, which contributed 280,000 kroner (£26,480) towards the film.
They claim it was the producers’ responsibility to tell people the footage was not genuine.
Ase Meyer, a short film commissioner for the institute, said she was “surprised” people thought the footage was real because there is no sign of any blood after the boy appears to be shot.
“It was not a cynical way to get attention. They had honest motivations,” she added.