Truth behind filming of ‘Innocence of Muslims’ from duped supporting actress

Everyone who wishes to find out the truth about the movie now known as the Innocence of Muslims, please read the letter below. I, Anna Gurji, as one of the supporting actresses in the film will share with you what really happened.

A year ago, in the summer of 2011, I submitted my materials to various projects on the Explore Talent web-site. I received a call from the casting director of the movie “Desert Warrior”, and my audition date was scheduled. I auditioned for the role of Hilary. Several days later, I was informed that I got a callback. I did the callback. Several days later, I was informed that I landed the role of Hilary in the movie called “Desert Warrior”.

The filming of the movie was done in August of 2011. We were filming the movie in a studio warehouse with a green screen in Duarte, CA. The project was a low budget, independent feature movie.

The filming of the movie was beginning soon after the day I was told I got a role. The script was not sent to me. When I got to the set, I was merely provided with the scenes my character was in.

I did not consider this to be an unusual thing, seeing as I have had an experience with something like this before. I did a movie once where the script was written in a foreign language and only my parts were translated into English and accordingly, I was provided with my scenes only. Having experienced that, I thought the same thing was happening with “Desert Warrior”. Aware of the fact that the supposed producer and the script-writer of the movie (known as Sam Bassil) was a foreigner (thanks to his accent), I thought that the original script was written in his native tongue and that not all scenes were translated into English. Also, the filming dates of the movie had to be rescheduled last minute to fit my schedule (I had other films to do right after the “Desert Warrior” outside CA). Because of this rushed rearrangements, I thought that the production first forgot and then did not consider it necessary to send me the script, and again – I did not find this unusual, since I knew what role I had, I knew about my character and I knew about the story of the film.

My character Hilary was a young girl who is sold (against her own free will) by her parents to a tribe leader known as GEORGE. She is one of his (most likely, the youngest) brides in the movie.

The film was about a comet falling into a desert and different tribes in ancient Egypt fighting to acquire it for they deemed that the comet possessed some supernatural powers.

The movie that we were doing in Duarte was called “Desert Warrior” and it was a fictional adventure drama. The character GEORGE was a leader of one of those tribes fighting for the comet.

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

The atmosphere at the set was as friendly as possible. We all knew that we were doing an adventure drama for a very low budget financing. The director Alan Roberts even had plans that with this low budget product he would be able to get some more money to make a good quality version (by shooting it in the real desert and having better product in every category) of the “Desert Warrior”.

I had interactions with the man known as Sam Bassil on the set. He was very amiable, respectful, soft-spoken, always making sure that the filming was running smoothly and everyone was satisfied. He even told me the premiere of the movie was going to happen sometime soon and I would get a good amount of tickets to invite my friends and family.

I have never been informed about the premiere after that (if it ever happened) and have not seen the final product (if there is any, except for the short one that is uploaded online).

People ask what’s my reaction after seeing that.

Shock.

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.

I feel shattered.

People who were tricked into believing that we were making an adventure drama about a comet falling into a desert did nothing but take part in a low budget indie feature film called the “Desert Warrior” that WAS about a comet falling into a desert and tribes in ancient Egypt fighting to acquire it.

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, it is painful to hear people blame us when we did nothing but perform our art in the fictional adventure movie that was about a comet falling into a desert and tribes in ancient Egypt fighting to acquire it, it’s painful to be thought to be someone else when you are a completely different person.

Like I explained to Inside Edition, I feel awful.. I did not do anything but I feel awful.

I feel awful that a human being is capable of such evil. I feel awful about the lies, about the injustice, about the cruelty, about the violence, about the death of innocent people, about the pain of offended people, about the false accusations.

I don’t know what else to do but speak the truth. I will not go into hiding (when I have nothing to hide), because if we don’t speak the truth, there is no world worth living for.

grew up in Georgia Republic (ex-Soviet Union), I have witnessed the strikes, protests, demonstrations, injustice, cruelty, violence in my life. I was there during the war between Russia and Georgia, sleeping in outdoor clothes and packed backpacks waiting to be bombed. And I left my country, knowing that there was no future for a film actress there (seeing as the film industry is still in the process of recovery after the collapse of the Soviet Union).

Why did I want to pursue acting? I had a role in a short film when I was thirteen. There was a scene in the movie, where my beggar character and my character’s blind father were thrown off the bridge by police officers. During the filming of the scene, I was attacked by a huge lump in my throat, witnessing what the police were doing to my blind father. I wanted to cry, but knowing that my blind father would worry about me if he heard me cry, I swallowed the lump and stayed strong and did my best to defend him against the injustice. Experiencing the magic of acting (losing yourself into the character) was what had me fall in love with the craft. After a long journey and fighting to somehow get to the States, I managed to come here with my mother.

It’s so difficult for an actor (especially the one from a foreign country) to begin a career. People think that once you are in the States, you have all the doors opened before you. It’s not so. It’s very difficult to join the union, to get an agent, to lose your accent and to land roles if you don’t have connections. For four years I have been struggling to slowly move ahead and not give up. A year ago, when I got the supporting role in this indie feature film “Desert Warrior”, I was so excited.

I don’t understand why was this happened to me, when all I wanted to do was pursue my acting career.

I have to admit I wanted to pursue my acting career because I loved the process of transformation into a different character – a selfish reason.

A few months ago, I just finished writing a script with my father about world peace, which helped me understand something – forgive and care for your enemy. Then, I understood that there is a bigger reason for acting. When we act, we help people see all different characters that exist. When people see about all these different characters, they start to understand them. When they understand all these different characters, they come close to accepting them. When they come close to accepting them, they come close to being united. And when they come close to being united, they come close to loving and helping each other.

I was thinking about something a week ago. We are like cells in the body of Earth. Why won’t we work together and support each other instead of killing and destroying each other. If cells kill each other, eventually the body will die. By always speaking the truth and supporting the world peace, I hope we will be able to save the Earth from dying.. someday.

Growing up in a family that was extremely open-minded and respectful to all the differences in the world (all the religions) and growing up peacefully with people with so many different religions around me, it is devastating for me to have my face put into something that is completely opposite of what I believe in.

I want to send my condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives. Everything happens for a reason, they say. I believe this is a trap of evil to separate us from our humanity. We must stray strong and not forget that violence has not been able to get us anywhere spiritually and has not been able to make the world a better place. Understanding and love will.

 

 

 

21 Responses to “Truth behind filming of ‘Innocence of Muslims’ from duped supporting actress”

  1. sheraz says:

    love for all hate for none

  2. Sheela Nandini says:

    I’m sorry too, Ms Anna Gurji.

    Thank you for posting her letter here on your blog , Shekharji.

    Hugs,
    sheela

  3. carolyne says:

    Thank you Anna for a beautiful and very eloquent letter.
    All of our hearts go out to you and your fellow cast members – how could anyone conceive of such horrific ugliness coming from something seemingly so innocent.
    You are talented, gentle, kind and filled with love and it is all going to be okay. I know how you have struggled since with all of this which indeed makes you human – and human of the special sort. You hve always had this “gift.”
    Your analogy about the cells in our bodies a good one – i have always maintained that everything works in perfect harmony for “homeostasis” – just the way it is.
    I join you in your crusade for peace. harmony, love and for the world to recognize that without these very vital forces we are just killing ourselves. I love you and I am with you all the way as I believe most are. Hold your head high – you did absolutely nothing wrong. I love you. Carolyne

  4. Subodh Deshpande says:

    Thanks Shekharji,
    for posting Ms Anna Gurji’s letter.
    exciting story..what happens at the end..
    If what she is writing is correct then I think What exactly is happening in todays world that exactly has been described in the this film I suppose.
    Everybody says we are in 22nd century but the political world is still in the era tribes..
    the countries behaves like tribes, let it be any country and let it be any politician/leader he always behaves with conservative and orthodox mindset like a tribal leader this what director may be looking at them and look at people also, are they changed ! Just by chaining the clothes, using very advanced machines, technology does not mean they have become modern they are also not different than these tribal groups ..

    May be instead of Egypt the director should have used Rome, Greece or Africa as background then may be the confusion would not have happened but it is also true that the message would not have reached..I suppose..

    This is my personal opinion based on the told story and based on my ability to look at the world..
    hence if anybody is hurt then here is my apology in advance..

    Thanks and take care..Subodh

  5. Meena T says:

    where can this film be seen ? Any online Links ?

  6. Harb says:

    We are indeed to the Gaia or living earth as the cells of our body are to us. But what many people do not know is that different cells in our body fight among themselves too. And still in doing so they serve the growth/evolution of our one body.

    As one grows the importance of some kind of cells increases while that of others decreases. Like say, after our childhood the importance of bone and marrow cells will decrease and blood and muscle cells will increase or later importance of blood and muscle cells will decrease and that of nerve cells will increase. Then Nature uses various ways to send more energy to those cells who are more important now. Fighting is one of them.

    Everything has a place in this perfect scheme of things of the individual, earth, universe.

  7. Sharifa says:

    Dear Shekhar Kapur,

    Many thanks for publishing this.

    At least you have done this much.

    There are so many who think that it was just fine for this person to be making a film. when people such as this brave actor comes out with her version of what happened it is conclusive that it was a deliberate provocative act.

    No doubt by publishing this in your column you have indirectly supported truth. I would have appreciated it much more had you used at least a few words to condemn the film-maker. I do not see many non-Muslims doing that

    Perhaps it would have been like a balm
    Thank you

  8. khatuna says:

    Thank you for posting her letter here on your blog , mister Shekhar

  9. austere says:

    Anna
    Thanks for sharing your story. What a terrible terrible thing to happen.
    I hope you will take all possible precautions because we’re not living in a sane world about now, that is the way it is.

    What an eye opener and what a huge cost to bear.
    Take care.

  10. Shekhar Sathe says:

    I too was shocked, but for a different reason first. And that was when I saw thos post shared by a friend. I took it to be a letter by Anna (hazare) Guruji. But then I read the letter to realize that this had nothing to do with Indian Pontiff who claims to be have been born to erase corruption from the face of India if not the earth.
    Anna Gurji’s account is indeed shocking and casts a shadow of doubt on all independent film projects by people who you do not know personally. It would mean that you must be either shown the full script irrespective of your role in the story or you must seek certain indemnities if the final product is offensive or illegal.
    Some people have tried to put this film into the genre of freedom of expression and have condemned the governments (of the West) who condemned the film as an assault of freedom of expression. The film itself is a fraud first and in bad taste next.
    Similar issues arose in India in the case of Tripathi who put out certain cartoons where there was an upsurge of emotion on part of those who were politically opposed to the ruling party in India. Whereas those who did not support Tripathi were condemned as being against freedom of expression. Subtlety and wit are essential parts of humour and the subject of humour should feel cleansed not sullied. But compared to the “Innocence of Muslims” outrage, the Tripathi episode was a non-event. But, in India, we should not be surprised if the so-called freedom of expression carries more serious repercussions in some other context in future. We live in times of heightened sensitivities.
    Thank for posting Anna Gurji’s letter. It provides direct evidence of what some newspapers had reported.

  11. Harb says:

    Meanwhile wonder if suffering the Muslims are now bearing all over the world irrespective of on which side they are is not necessary to make Sufis of them – the highest of Islam.

    For a bit more read my post “Sufism is to Islam what fragrance is to a flower” here: http://bigtamasha.blogspot.in/2012/09/bigtamashas-sufism.html

  12. Jehangir Chinoy says:

    Thank you so much for posting this.

  13. shekhar says:

    i have condemned the film on my twitter account extensively saying that ‘garbage like this does not even deserve to be termed a film’

  14. Showkat lone says:

    I will not thank u
    i think it is biased
    so,in order to prove it………….

    You have to accept ISLAM AND BECOME MUSLIM
    IF U ACCEPT IT
    THEN I VLL BELIEVE.
    SUGESSTION:- READ QUR’AN IN ENGLISH VERSION ……THEN U VLL KNOW ISLAM.
    WE WILL SACRIFY OUR LIVES FOR ISLAM AND FOR PROPHET MUHAMMAD(PBUH)

  15. KayEm says:

    Anna, you were obviously duped. I can imagine your pain and anger and feel for you. I saw bits of that movie on Youtube. To my mind it was tasteless and offensive. I would give it a very poor review. I would even call it disgusting. I would stop watching it half way. But I wouldn’t blame all Americans for it and go on a killing rampage.

  16. Sharifa says:

    Ok Sekhar Kapoor, I am not on twitter but I believe you. Thank you so much

  17. kush says:

    Yes its very sad that Anna was duped into acting in a film. But the reason she was duped is that Muslims have already scared most people into never criticizing Islam. THose that do spend the rest of their lives in hiding or are brutally murdered. How quickly we forget Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasreen, Theo Van Gogh, Ayan Hirsi Ali and many others. It has come to a situation that folks feel they can not dare to openly make an anti Islamic film. They feel no such fear in making films/writing books or drawing cartoons that mock Chrisitianity, Judaism and Hinduism. Why do you all feel such double standards are justified? Islamic texts themselves are filled with hatred and injunctions to kill idolators-yet if someone points that out its ok to kill diplomats? Recently Pakistan TV showed a reality show where a hindu boy converted to islam-is that not provocative? COUld we screen a similar show that has muslims converting?? Wake up and shed the blinkers. Islam has always stood for surrender -not peace.

  18. Harb says:

    Different religions originated in different cultural ages and so have different characteristics. Nobody can make a film on any Sikh Guru not to talk of ridiculing them.

  19. Zania says:

    yes,its sad that some people unknowingly got involved in making the film. its also sad that some innocent people may have died because of some Muslims. but why do you blame Islam for the latter?Islam clearly says that NO innocent people should be harmed in anyway just because of some anti Islamist.some people say that the movie is justified because USA has freedom of speech or whatever.but any law is justified……until it hurts any community.if someone INSULTS our Prophet,our religion….what do you expect Muslims to do?sit down and tolerate it?mingle lies with true facts?there are lots of websites that dont agree with Islam.you dont see Muslims slaughtering the people who are responsible for those sites,do you?we only interfere and correct them if they get something wrong about Islam.but this is not a review,its TOTALLY anti Islamic taking the life of the man we Muslims respect most and portraying it as something its not.its like playing with our religion.you think that’s okay?
    And Kush,please READ the Quran before making a comment on it.we are not to kill ANYONE just because they believe in the teachings of the other religions.we are to love and help people,irrespective of their religion.and yes,we have to protest when someone tries to play with our devotion,our faith.
    and Islam stands for peace.Islam MEANS peace

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