Director Costa Gavras slams 'bad taste' joke after hoaxer tweets his 'death'

Gavras arriving for the screening of the TV series Twin Peaks at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017.
Gavras arriving for the screening of the TV series Twin Peaks at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017.PHOTO: AFP

ATHENS (AFP) - The Greek-French filmmaker Costa Gavras was forced to deny rumours of his own demise on Thursday (Aug 30) after some media were fooled by a fake ministerial Twitter account announcing he had died.

Oscar-winning Gavras, who is known for his gritty political dramas, told Greek state television ERT the prank was a "joke of bad taste".

The fake news - believed to be the work of an Italian hoaxer - was published on the Twitter account @MZorbaGR, purporting to be that of the new Greek culture minister Myrsini Zorba, and was immediately picked up by media around the world.

It was followed by another tweet which read: "This account is a fake, created by the Italian journalist Tommasso Debenedetti."

Debenedetti, who has said he creates phoney accounts to highlight "the fragility of social networks", has previously played similar pranks announcing the "deaths" of JK Rowling, Mikhail Gorbachev, Fidel Castro and Pope Benedict XVI.

"Death works well on Twitter," he told AFP in an interview in 2013.

"Unfortunately, journalism works on speed. False news spreads exponentially."

Gavras, whose real name is Konstantinos Gavras, said in Thursday's television interview that there was an "odd situation with the news, everywhere in the world there are these kind of hoaxes that instantly become the truth".

The 85-year-old became a household name with the films Z and L'Aveu and is currently working on an adaptation of a book by Greece's former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.