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The low-budget film that sparked Libyan violence

IBNLive.com
Sep 13, 2012 at 03:22pm IST

New Delhi: Probably just the title of the film by Sam Bacile was competent enough to make people angry in Libya, because it’s a bad film by any standard. The badly made film tries to describe the Prophet Mohammad as a womaniser and as someone who approved of child sexual abuse.

The protesters were hit by such a rage that their violent attack took the life of the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. This was indeed a heavy price to pay for a film which is more of a personal rant than the product of any creative bout.

Writer and director of ‘Muhammad’, Sam Bacile spoke to the Associated Press from an unidentified location. He remained defiant, saying Islam is a cancer and he wanted his film to make a political statement.

The low-budget film that sparked Libyan violence

Films can work as a tool of propaganda but it should be profound, not like any daily dose of gossip.

The 56-year-old identifies himself as an Israeli Jew and says he believes his video will help his native land by exposing Islam's flaws to the world. Excerpts dubbed into Arabic were posted on YouTube.

Though Bacile is claiming his film to be a political statement, it’s in reality a ‘not so good’ creation to be taken seriously.

It neither qualifies as a docu-drama, nor as a fiction. It remains a half baked video which can be given to the new actors to observe what not to do in the name of acting. It might have been the result of resource crunch but the film lacks authenticity in its content, visually as well as philosophically.

Characterisation doesn’t go well with the narrative, nor the actors look in their grooves. Similarly, the canvas background appears fake. Leave aside lighting and other technicalities involved in filmmaking, ‘Muhammad’ is no better than diploma films.

Tuesday's attack by a mob in Libya enraged by ‘Muhammad’ came on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist strike. Ambassador Chris Stevens was the first U.S. diplomat to die in the line of duty since 1979.

The film’s video excerpts posted on YouTube depict the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a madman in an overtly ridiculing way, showing him having sex and calling for massacres.

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, told The Associated Press in an interview outside Los Angeles that he helped with logistics for the filming of ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ which mocked Muslims and the prophet Muhammad and may have caused inflamed mobs that attacked U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya. He provided the first details about a shadowy production group behind the film.

Nakoula denied he directed the film and said he knew the self-described filmmaker, Sam Bacile. But the cell phone number that AP contacted to reach the filmmaker who identified himself as Sam Bacile traced to the same address near Los Angeles where AP found Nakoula. Federal court papers said Nakoula's aliases included Nicola Bacily, Erwin Salameh and others.

Nakoula told the AP that he was a Coptic Christian and said the film's director supported the concerns of Christian Copts about their treatment by Muslims.

Nakoula denied he had posed as Bacile. During a conversation outside his home, he offered his driver's license to show his identity but kept his thumb over his middle name, Basseley. Records checks by the AP subsequently found it and other connections to the Bacile persona.

However, the prime question is not the identity of the filmmaker, it’s his motive. Films can work as a tool of propaganda but it should be profound, not like any daily dose of gossip.

Though the US ambassador to Libya has already been killed, but the protesters need to rethink about their decision of taking ‘Muhammad’ too seriously. (With inputs from AP)

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