Update: Mysterious is right. Skepticism about the actual identity of "Sam Bacile," the producer of the anti-Islam film Muslim Innocence, appears to be justified. The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg contacted a consultant of the film, Steve Klein, who said that Bacile, contrary to previous claims in The Wall Street Journal and Associated Press, is not Israeli nor actually named Sam Bacile. (It's a pseudonym.) Klein tells Goldberg:
"I don't know that much about him. I met him, I spoke to him for an hour. He's not Israeli, no. I can tell you this for sure, the State of Israel is not involved, Terry Jones (the radical Christian Quran-burning pastor) is not involved. His name is a pseudonym. All these Middle Eastern folks I work with have pseudonyms. I doubt he's Jewish. I would suspect this is a disinformation campaign."
So according to Klein, Bacile is a big fat liar. And his nationality isn't the only thing coming under fire. The Hollywood Reporter is pouring cold water on Bacile's claim that he spent $5 million to produce the film. Jordan Zakarin writes:
"Though Bacile claims he spent $5 million on the movie — a figure that would put the film's on par with the Toronto festival entrant Julianne Moore-starrer What Maisie Knew — the 13 minutes of footage available online look unprofessional. Furthermore, Bacile has virtually no footprint in the Hollywood community. The writer-director-producer has no agent listed on IMDBPro and no credits on any film or TV production."
Meanwhile, BuzzFeed's Rosie Gray is skeptical if Muslim Innocence is even a real movie:
As the video above — cut from the YouTube video tied to a global controversy — shows, nearly all of the names in the movie's "trailer" — is a compilation of the most clumsily overdubbed moments from what is in reality an incoherent, haphazardly-edited set of scenes. Among the overdubbed words is "Mohammed," suggesting that the footage was taken from a film about something else entirely. The footage also suggests multiple video sources — there are obvious and jarring discrepancies among actors and locations.
Needless to say, there are a lot of threads to unspool from all of this, and lots more to come about his intentions and identity.
Original article: Few biographical details are known about the Israeli-American filmmaker who enraged Muslims yesterday with his incendiary film about the Prophet Muhammed. But one thing is clear: Director Sam Bacile expected his film to incite violence. On Tuesday, his expectation came true* as an angry mob in Libya murdered U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other embassy staff members in an attack that followed a similar assault on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt, U.S. officials have confirmed. Here's what we know about the 54-year-old writer, director and producer behind the movie Muslim Innocence.
He knew the film would lead to violence. To state the obvious, a film did not kill four U.S. officials in Libya today, that blame can only be placed on the religious extremists (allegedly Islamic) who fired gunshots and rocket-propelled grenades into the U.S. Embassy. But according to one of Bacile's consultants on the film, Steve Klein, the two knew full well that their incendiary movie would provoke violent reprisals. Klein told the Associated Press this morning that he warned Bacile “you’re going to be the next Theo van Gogh,” referring to the Dutch filmmaker murdered by a Muslim extremist in 2004. Klein said Bacile acknowledged that. “We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen,” he told the AP. *Update: U.S. officials say the embassy attack in Libya may have been a coordinated attack planned ahead of time. That follows a report by CNN citing sources that say the attackers used the film protests as a "diversion" to reach the embassy.
He hates Islam with a passion In a telephone interview from his home, Bacile told The Wall Street Journal's Matt Bradley and Dion Nissenbaum that "Islam is a cancer" adding that "The movie is a political movie. It's not a religious movie."
He says he's a real estate tycoon. According to the Journal, Bacile described himself as an Israeli-American real estate developer in California. He said he financed the film with $5 million from 100 Jewish donors who he refused to identify. Little is available online about his business past. For what it's worth, Google is mystified by search queries for real estate developers by the name of Sam Bacile ("Did you mean: sam basel" it asks, pointing to a Colorado real estate developer).
Prominent Jewish journalists like Jeffrey Goldberg and John Podhoretz were similarly puzzled by the thin details about Bacile. "I would love to know more about Mr. Sam Bacile, whom no Jew I know has ever heard, and his 100 mysterious backers," tweeted The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg. "'Bacile' as a Jewish name is entirely new to me,'" added Commentary's John Podhoretz. "Doesn't mean it can't be one." Regardless, he appears to have relatives living in Egypt. Klein tells the AP that Bacile "is concerned for family members who live in Egypt." Bacile declined to comment on that. Whatever the case, he clearly has no problem going to great lengths to insult Muslims world-wide considering the content of his film.
The film's message. The AP describes the film as such:
The film claims Muhammad was a fraud. An English-language 13-minute trailer on YouTube shows an amateur cast performing a wooden dialogue of insults disguised as revelations about Muhammad, whose obedient followers are presented as a cadre of goons.
The Journal adds that Muhammad is portrayed as a homosexual, also something that doesn't play well in the Middle East and appears to be aimed solely at further incitement. According to the AP "It was made in three months in the summer of 2011, with 59 actors and about 45 people behind the camera." Below is a trailer of the film:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.