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.”