The makers of the viral YouTube video, “SYRIAN HERO BOY rescue girl in shootout,” which was picked up and broadcast by several cable news channels in the U.S. and around the world, issued a press release Friday admitting that the entire video was faked. Rather than apologize for deceiving the public, though, the filmmakers write that they’re “pleased the film spread widely” and helped “spur debate” about children and war.

The debate now, though, is about the ethics and efficacy of faking a video to make a point. Just how fake is the video? It wasn’t even shot in Syria, but in Malta, and was partially funded by the Norwegian Film Institute. Here’s a shot of the film crew and “hero boy” himself.

cast-crew-syrian-hero-boy

Filmmaker Lars Klevberg stands by his team’s effort. If he can fake a video, couldn’t he at least fake an apology for deliberately misleading viewers around the world?

Here’s the complete press release from the filmmakers, and reaction from those who were understandably duped.

Editor’s note: A tweet which was mistakenly included in this post has been removed.