Actress writes of anti-Islam movie horror

2012-09-18 16:41
Prophet film protest
Cape Town - Georgian actress Anna Gurji has written a letter to author Neil Gaiman detailing her experience working on the movie that would go on to become controversial anti-Islam movie Innocence of Muslims, which has led to violent riots around much of the Arab world.

Gaiman explains in a post on his website titled "A Letter from a Scared Actress" that he had met Gurji while working together on another movie, Blood Kiss, together.

Gurji wrote to Gaiman (best known for books such as Stardust and Coraline): "Last summer I auditioned for an indie low budget feature movie and I landed a supporting role. The movie was about a comet falling into a desert and ancient tribes fighting over it for they thought that the comet had some magical powers.

"A year later, the movie was dubbed (without the actors' permission), the lines were changed drastically and the movie was morphed into an Anti-Islam film. Even the names of the characters were changed. And the character I had scenes with GEORGE became MUHAMMAD."

'Jewish donors'

Scared and confused about how to tell her story in light of the violent attacks that have broken out because of the movie's depiction of Islam, which it describes as a "cancer", and mocks the Prophet Muhammad, Gaiman encouraged Gurji to write a letter which he posted verbatim.

Originally titled Desert Warrior, the a movie that was supposed to be about tribal battles prompted by the arrival of a comet on Earth. But Desert Warrior was heavy dubbed and post-production editing.

The man behind the hateful project has been identified as softcore porn director Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a a 55-year-old Coptic Christian from Egypt who claimed the movie had the financial backing of "Jewish donors", according to The Guardian.

Nakoula and his family have gone into hiding and he was interviewed by California federal probation officers, who are reviewing a 2010 case in which he pleaded guilty to a bank fraud charge.

'I could not stop crying'

In her letter posted on Gaiman's website, Gurji makes explicit that she was not aware of Nakoula's plans.

"There was no mention EVER by anyone of MUHAMMAD and no mention of religion during the entire time I was on the set," she writes. "I am hundred percent certain nobody in the cast and nobody in the U.S. artistic side of the crew knew what was really planned for this Desert Warrior.

"Two hours after I found out everything that had happened I gave 'Inside Edition' an interview, the duration of which I could not stop crying," she continues.

"I feel shattered ... It's painful to see how our faces were used to create something so atrocious without us knowing anything about it at all. It's painful to see people being offended with the movie that used our faces to deliver lines (it’s obvious the movie was dubbed) that we were never informed of, it is painful to see people getting killed for this same movie."

While Gurji fears for her safety, she has not gone into hiding. "I don’t know what else to do but speak the truth," she said. "I will not go into hiding (since I have nothing to hide), because if we don’t speak the truth, there is no world worth living for."

The movie has been cited as the reason behind the deadly suicide bomb attack in Kabul on Tuesday which killed eight South Africans, as well as a number of other deadly attacks in Arab regions.

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