It Was Staged! Video of Syrian Boy Saving Girl Under Fire Was Shot in Malta

It was a great video.

It shows the young boy, about 8 years old, weave his way down a dusty street, dodging bullets to reach a terrified girl cowering behind a car. The boy even plays dead at one point to deceive the sharpshooters, who miss hitting both children as they appear to safely run off.

The video went viral and was the lead story on Fox News. Everyone was talking about it. I had some doubts about it, but I really wanted it to be real. It was so exciting and heartwarming.

But, no, it wasn’t real. But it wasn’t a cheap fake either. The video was produced in Malta by Norwegian director Lars Klevberg. In fact the film received funding from the Norwegian Film Institute (NFI) and the Audio and Visual Fund from Arts Council Norway in October 2013.

Were they comfortable making a film that potentially deceived millions of people? “I was not uncomfortable,” Klevberg said. “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.”

Since being uploaded to YouTube on Monday the video has been watched more than five million times and inspired thousands of comments. There has been a big debate about whether it is genuine. How those viewers will react to learning that it’s a work of fiction remains to be seen. “We are really happy with the reaction,” Klevberg said. “It created a debate.”

14 thoughts on “It Was Staged! Video of Syrian Boy Saving Girl Under Fire Was Shot in Malta”

  1. This is not clever. It's just WAG THE DOG, repackaged. And I don't see what there is to debate.

    Maybe the ending could have been a predator strike, blowing the kids to smithereens? What, too controversial?

    If you want "children and war" movies, I recommend "The Bridge" by Bernhard Wicki, 1959, comes to mind.

    1. How many more of these hoaxes are out there, supposedly for teaching us what is good for us? I would venture to guess that many things we think are real have been staged. It's just amazing to me that this story is known for what it is – although it has probably done its work policy-wise and so can be acknowledged for what it is.

  2. They should show Poroshenko regime´s shellings in eastern Ukraine instead. They are killing children and are not staged.

  3. Of course, the most notable use of the video has been by syrian rebel supporters – including the US state department – as war propaganda, claiming that it depicted evil Assad army snipers firing on the children. That Klevberg is not bothered about this, seems to indicate that his motives are not so disinterested as he professes.

    I find the admission "I had some doubts about it, but I really wanted it to be real. It was so exciting and heartwarming." under these circumstances quite disturbing. It is precisely such calculated emotionalized kitsch that is characteristic of war propaganda. If one wants to endulge in this, one should watch Hollywood movies. But if such stuff is presented as real, it needs to be uncompromisingly exposed and refuted.


    1. The writer was probably also taken-in by the Syrian lesbian blogger who was thought to have been kidnapped, gang-raped and murdered (presumably by Bashar and his siblings?). When the truth was told, the Syrian lesbian was an invention of a man from Atlanta who was living in Istanbul – of all places – at the time.

      Of course, the Syrian lesbian probably would've been strait if Saddam's brutes had not dumped her out of an incubator in Kuwait…according to the Kuwaiti ambassador's daughter.

  4. I have seen ISIS videos that are very fake looking. Probably are fake. BB Gun effects. silly. And don't even get me started on the Foley, et. al videos.

  5. This clip could be presented as pretty much anything in the Middle East- it could be said to depict ISIS gunmen shooting at kids, it could be presented as Syrians shooting at kids, it could be presented as Israeli soldiers firing at Gazan kids- and it could be presented as American soldiers firing at Iraqi kids.

    The sad fact is, unless you are sure of the origin/provenance of video these days, you can't be sure if it's what 'they say' it is.

    And let's take it a step farther- is it that great a leap to think (without any context) that this could be presented as ISIS fighters engaging their enemies in order to cover the kids' escape from the street?

    Let's not forget, either, that people will believe what they want to believe even after being clued in to the truth- how many Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear weapons and was planning an attack on the United States?

    1. But what it was, was staged. That's the most important context, apart from how it was used. Who is sponsoring this kind of drama — in Malta? Or elsewhere, even in the US? It is not a one-off, and it is not out-of-context news footage, as you seem to suggest (though that may not have been your intent). It is done with some production values that convinced people. Who made it? Obviously a Western or allied Mideast interested party.

  6. What ever the director Lars Klevberg has to say, this video is nothing but a brutal war-propaganda.
    It is a typical warmongering and its only purpose is to instigate war on innocent people.
    If that is it not a crime against humanity it certainly should be .
    The penalty should be death. If this evil man wanted to raise discussions about children and wars –
    as he claims -why not go to Syria and film the reality? Why fake it on Malta and publish it as truth??
    If people don't find this sickening, the world has no hope.

    1. "The penalty should be death."??? I hope you're not being serious there, Reverend. I think the video is in poor taste too, but that doesn't make the director "evil" nor his video "a crime against humanity." Do you also approve of the fatwa placed on Salmon Rushdie's head for writing things that some Muslims considered blasphemous?

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