Israel Police arrested 20 people this week in conjunction with a global FBI sting against an international crime ring that has allegedly scammed tens of millions of dollars from individuals and companies over the Internet.
Among those detained on March 1 were Harry Meir Amar of Netanya, Shimon Ben Shitrit of Ashdod, Tamzi Bebershvili of Netanya, Ori Saadon of Beit Shemesh, Stanislav Nazarov of Or Akiva, Timur Kardanov of Netanya, Rabia Abdel Hai of Tira, Ahmad Abu Naji of Nazareth, Husam Hariri of Umm el-Fahm and Moshe Hazan of Ramat Gan.
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They are suspected, variously, of fraud, aggravated fraud, conspiring to commit crimes, threats, extortion, money laundering and running a criminal organization.
The arrests are part of an ongoing investigation by police fraud officers, in conjunction with the FBI, that the Israel Police has dubbed “Case 278: Social Engineering.”
In the information security world, the term “social engineering,” refers to the psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or giving away secret information. The suspects allegedly approached companies, including insurance companies, banks and pension funds abroad, and impersonated senior executives of those companies. They spoke to mid-level employees of the companies and led them to believe they were being entrusted to handle a large financial transaction on behalf of the company, but one that had to be treated with the utmost secrecy. The mid-level employees were then instructed to wire money from the company’s corporate bank accounts to bank accounts controlled by the alleged fraudsters.
This money was then rapidly wired to bank accounts in China and elsewhere, and then transferred on to the alleged fraudsters and their co-conspirators. Among the organizations targeted, according to Israel Police, were companies in Poland, Finland, India, France and the United States.
Some of the assets seized in a March 1, 2017 raid by Israeli police in conjunction with the FBI (Courtesy of Israel Police)
According to Israel Police, the alleged fraudsters hired the Israeli-Arab Hariri crime organization, one of Israel’s most powerful and dangerous organized crime groups, to provide protection through the use of threats and extortion, in exchange for a percentage of the proceeds. Police seized luxury cars, cash and documents during the raids, which took place at multiple locations throughout Israel.
Later the same day, police also arrested Meir Cohen, a business owner from Modiin, as well as Swiss citizen and Tel Aviv resident Jonathan Maman. Both were arrested for alleged Internet fraud through impersonation, although the court protocols do not indicate if these arrests were connected to Case 278 or relate to a separate investigation.
Some of the assets seized in a March 1, 2017 raid by Israeli police in conjunction with the FBI (Courtesy of Israel Police)
Two of the suspects arrested on Wednesday, Harry Meir Amar and Shimon Ben Shitrit, had also been arrested by Israel Police in November 2016 as part of a crime ring of about 35 individuals who operated out of apartments in Ashdod, Netanya and Ashkelon. This ring allegedly committed a variety of scams against companies and individuals abroad, including selling fictitious products and services, fictitious diamonds, fraudulent binary options and forex investments, as well as what is popularly known as the “fake CEO scam,” a scam that involves impersonating the CEO of a company and asking an employee to wire money somewhere.
The CEO scam closely resembles what the Israel Police have dubbed “social engineering.” When asked if the arrests on Wednesday were connected to the arrests last November, however, an Israel Police spokeswoman told The Times of Israel that despite the fact that the two cases involve some of the same individuals and methods, they are separate.
In a press release dated March 1, Israel Police said that although the crime ring is international in scope, it is centered in Israel.
“These international fraudulent schemes involving social engineering are growing in scale and doing unprecedented damage to the reputation of Israel, which is perceived as a center that exports this kind of fraud,” the police warned. This kind of language echoes that now being used by the Israel Securities Authority to describe the vast, largely untackled binary options fraud that has flourished out of Israel for the past decade, involving over 100 firms fleecing victims worldwide out of tens of billions of dollars.
“That is why it is a priority of the Israeli police to tackle this phenomenon.”
Gilbert Chikli, 50, and his wife, Shirly Chikli, 31, pose at their home in Ashdod on March 28, 2016. (AP/Oded Balilty)
Indeed, one of the individuals arrested in last November’s raids was Simon Dov Chikli, who together with his brother Gilbert pioneered the fake CEO scam more than 10 years ago. Both Chikli brothers were extradited to France in 2008 but later found their way back to Israel. Gilbert Chikli was tried in absentia and remains a wanted man in France, but lives freely in Israel, a situation that Israeli police have refused to explain, according to media reports.
In fact, Gilbert and his brother Simon were the subjects of a 2015 feature film in France, “Je Compte Sur Vous” (“Thank You for Calling” in English), which made many Jews worldwide uncomfortable, fearing it could stoke anti-Semitism with its portrayal of two French-Israeli fraudsters stealing from people in France while the Israeli police sat idly by.
Underlining the cooperation between the FBI and Israel Police, the US domestic intelligence agency announced on March 1 that it had indicted 19 individuals taking part in various international fraud and money laundering conspiracies, 16 of whom had been arrested overnight or that morning. The arrests, the FBI said, took place in New York and Los Angeles, as well as Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany, and Israel. Seven of these 19 individuals are Israeli, and three of them — Harry Amar, Ori Saadon and Stanislav Nazarov — are among the 20 suspects also listed as having been arrested by Israeli police.
In the FBI press release, the organization hinted that it does not limit its interest to criminals that target Americans, but seeks to crack down on anyone who uses US financial infrastructure to launder their funds.
“Transnational criminal organizations attempt to exploit financial institutions and money service businesses and their anti-money laundering programs by moving illicit funds obtained in various scams perpetrated against businesses and citizens across the United States and the world that use the financial infrastructure of the United States to launder their illicit proceeds,” the FBI press release said.
Illustrative: FBI agent (iStock)
Four of the other Israelis named by the FBI as being detained are Itzhak Salama, 40, an Israeli-born resident of Los Angeles; Golan Chkechkov, 39, born in Israel and a resident of New York; Michael Admon, 50, born in Israel and a resident of New York, and Haviv Arazi, 27, a citizen of Israel and a resident of New York. They were indicted for running an unlicensed money transmitting network, or Hawala (an Arabic term), in the United States, Europe and Israel.
Hawala is a means of transferring money internationally without actually moving it, based on a trust system among brokers situated in different countries. Despite the fact that Hawala is an ancient practice rooted in mutual good faith, the system is often used by criminals who seek to launder money.
Another of those indicted by the FBI, Israeli citizen Stanislav Nazarov, was accused of generating “hundreds of thousands of dollars in proceeds from various fraudulent schemes and engaging in international money laundering.”
The FBI also unveiled indictments against eight Hungarians who sold fictitious vehicles over the Internet, as well as against Sabina Selimovic, a resident of Germany and citizen of Serbia, and Cristian Flamanzeanu aka “Christiano Flamanzeano,” 32, a resident and citizen of Romania. Selimovic and Flamanzeano are suspected of committing fake CEO fraud alongside Amar.
A Ferrari seized by Israel Police in a March 1 raid against the perpetrators of an Israel-based fraud and money laundering ring (Courtesy of Israel Police)
“These indictments and today’s arrests followed an international investigation into an interconnected web of money launderers, fraudsters and individuals that aided and abetted their criminal activities,” said US Attorney for the District of Columbia Channing D. Phillips. “The defendants in the cases being unsealed today are accused of taking part in schemes in the United States and abroad, costing victims millions of dollars. The investigation demonstrates the importance of international cooperation amongst law enforcement in combatting fraud and money laundering on a global basis.”
The ‘swindle of the century’
As The Times of Israel has reported, Israel has become a haven for criminals from abroad in recent years, particularly from France, many of whom commit Internet fraud and money laundering here. Last March, the Paris prosecutor estimated that French citizens had been defrauded to the tune of €4.5 billion ($4.8 billion) in the past six years, with much of this fraud emanating from Israel. A half billion euros of this fraud, according to French authorities, was due to the fake CEO scam and about €4 billion was due to binary options and forex fraud.
The FBI estimates that binary options fraudsters steal $10 billion annually from victims all over the world. Israeli Police have made almost no arrests in connection to binary options and forex, despite the fact that thousands of Israelis are employed in the widely fraudulent industry.
In a related development, on February 24, French magistrates referred two French-Israeli alleged masterminds of carbon-VAT fraud to French criminal court for trial, AFP reported. The two men, Cyril Astruc and Gregory Zaoui, along with 12 others, will soon face trial, despite the fact that six of the suspects are fugitives from French justice abroad.
Astruc and Zaoui are suspected of being behind a company called Crepuscule (or Twilight) which allegedly stole nearly €146 million ($155 million) of VAT taxes from the French government between April 2008 and March 2009.
Arnaud Mimran (right) and his lawyer Jean-Marc Fedida arrive at the Paris courthouse on May 25, 2016. (AFP/Bertrand Guay)
The Crepuscule case is one of about 15 separate cases proceeding through the French justice system that are related to carbon-VAT fraud, which has been dubbed “the swindle of the century” in France.
In the years 2008 and 2009, multiple groups of fraudsters took advantage of differing tax rules in different EU countries to buy and sell carbon credits, or permission to emit carbon dioxide, on exchanges in Europe. The fraudsters would buy the credits in a country with no value-added tax, and quickly sell them in France or other countries that did charge VAT. Generally, merchants have 90 days to remit the VAT they collect to the French government. The fraudsters took advantage of this time window to divert the money offshore and transfer it through a series of shell companies until it effectively vanished.
The French government has estimated it lost €1.6 billion ($1.7 billion) in unpaid VAT taxes this way and the total loss to all European countries is estimated at between €5-10 billion.
According to Marius Christian-Frunza, a lecturer at the Sorbonne and author of the book “Fraud and Carbon Markets,” multiple organized criminal groups from throughout Europe mastermined and engaged in the fraud, each trying to get a piece of the action before European regulators figured out what was happening and shut it down in 2009. Thus Georgian-Russian mafia operating in Spain were likely involved, as were Russian mafia from St. Petersburg, and German, Polish, Bulgarian and other organized crime groups.
In France, where an estimated €1.6 billion was stolen, many of the suspects were French Jews who either had or later obtained Israeli citizenship. One such network, headed by Arnaud Mimran and Marco Mouly, stole €283 million in VAT taxes. Much of this crime, according to a Haaretz investigative report, was carried out from the perpetrators’ computers in offices in Tel Aviv.
Mimran and Mouly were each sentenced to eight years in prison by a French court last July. However, several of their co-conspirators were sentenced in absentia and are believed to be living freely in Israel.
In the transcript of Mimran’s first interrogation by French police in the case, he said explicitly that he financed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2009 re-election campaign to the tune of $200,000. Netanyahu has said Mimran only gave him $40,000 in 2001. This claim is contradicted by the French police record.
Zaoui had fled France in 2014, lived for some time in Israel, and was arrested at the Paris airport in Roissy in March 2016. Zaoui is suspected of having set up and conducted the fraud on behalf of the Crepuscule company but the investigations do not show that he benefited from the fraud.
Cyril Astruc moved to Israel at some point in the last decade and bought real estate in Eilat and Herzliya. French judges claim that his real estate holdings in Israel may have been partially financed by carbon-VAT fraud. Astruc, who also goes by the name of Alex Khan, became very close to Israeli crime boss Amir Mulner during his time here, according to Israeli crime reporter Amir Zohar as well as documents from an Israeli criminal trial involving Astruc and members of Mulner’s crime organization.
According to French investigative magazine, Mediapart, some of the Crepuscule money went to offshore companies that are financially linked to the South American Sinaloa cartel and cocaine trafficking. The Sinaloa cartel in turn has been linked to the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
In addition, French authorities told The Times of Israel in May 2016 that there is overlap between the French-Israeli owners of fraudulent binary options and forex companies and some of the perpetrators of carbon-VAT scams. Several former employees of French-owned binary options companies in Israel told The Times of Israel that they were frequently paid in cash and that rumors were rife that carbon-VATproceeds were being “laundered” through binary options companies as well as through purchases of Israeli real estate.
The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 American horror-thriller film directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, and Scott Glenn. Adapted by Ted Tally from the 1988 novel of the same name by Thomas Harris, his second to feature the character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter; a brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalisticserial killer, the film was the second adaptation of a Harris novel featuring Lecter, preceded by the Michael Mann-directed Manhunter in 1986. In the film, Clarice Starling, a young U.S. FBI trainee, seeks the advice of the imprisoned Dr. Lecter to apprehend another serial killer, known only as "Buffalo Bill".
The Silence of the Lambs was released on February 14, 1991, and grossed $272.7 million worldwide against its $19 million budget. It was only the third film, the other two being It Happened One Night and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, to win Academy Awards in all the top five categories: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Adapted Screenplay. It is also the first (and so far only) Best Picture winner widely considered to be a horror film, and only the third such film to be nominated in the category, after The Exorcist in 1973 and Jaws in 1975. The film is considered "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant by the U.S. Library of Congress and was selected to be preserved in the National Film Registry in 2011. A sequel titled Hannibal was released in 2001 with Hopkins reprising his role, followed by two prequels: Red Dragon (2002) and Hannibal Rising (2007).
FBI trainee and UVA graduate, Clarice Starling, is pulled from her training at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia by Jack Crawford of the Bureau's Behavioral Science Unit. He assigns her to interview Hannibal Lecter, a former psychiatrist and incarcerated cannibalistic serial killer, whose insight might prove useful in the pursuit of a serial killer nicknamed "Buffalo Bill", who skins his female victims' corpses.
Starling travels to the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where she is led by Dr. Frederick Chilton to Lecter's solitary quarters. Although initially pleasant and courteous, Lecter grows impatient with Starling's attempts at "dissecting" him and rebuffs her. As she is leaving, one of the prisoners flicks semen at her. Lecter, who considers this act "unspeakably ugly", calls Starling back and tells her to seek out an old patient of his. This leads her to a storage shed, where she discovers a man's severed head with a sphinx moth lodged in its throat. She returns to Lecter, who tells her that the man is linked to Buffalo Bill. He offers to profile Buffalo Bill on the condition that he may be transferred away from Chilton, whom he detests.
Buffalo Bill abducts a Senator's daughter, Catherine Martin. Crawford authorizes Starling to offer Lecter a fake deal, promising a prison transfer if he provides information that helps them find Buffalo Bill and rescue Catherine. Instead, Lecter demands a quid pro quo from Starling, offering clues about Buffalo Bill in exchange for personal information. Starling tells Lecter about the murder of her father when she was ten years old. Chilton secretly records the conversation and reveals Starling's deceit before offering Lecter a deal of Chilton's own making. Lecter agrees and is flown to Memphis, Tennessee, where he verbally torments Senator Ruth Martin, and gives her misleading information on Buffalo Bill, including the name "Louis Friend".
Starling notices that "Louis Friend" is an anagram of "iron sulfide" — fool's gold. She visits Lecter, who is now being held in a cage-like cell in a Tennessee courthouse, and asks for the truth. Lecter tells her that all the information she needs is contained in the case file. Rather than give her the real name, he insists that they continue their quid pro quo and she recounts a traumatic childhood incident where she was awakened by the sound of spring lambs being slaughtered on a relative's farm in Montana. Starling admits that she still sometimes wakes thinking she can hear lambs screaming, and Lecter speculates that she is motivated to save Catherine in the hope that it will end the nightmares. Lecter gives her back the case files on Buffalo Bill after their conversation is interrupted by Chilton and the police, who escort her from the building. Later that evening, Lecter kills his guards, escapes from his cell, and disappears.
Starling analyzes Lecter's annotations to the case files and realizes that Buffalo Bill knew his first victim personally. Starling travels to the victim's hometown and discovers that Buffalo Bill was a tailor, with dresses and dress patterns identical to the patches of skin removed from each of his victims. She telephones Crawford to inform him that Buffalo Bill is trying to form a "woman suit" out of real skin, but Crawford is already en route to make an arrest, having cross-referenced Lecter's notes with hospital archives and finding a transsexual man named Jame Gumb, who once applied unsuccessfully for a sex-change operation. Starling continues interviewing friends of Buffalo Bill's first victim in Ohio, while Crawford leads an FBI HRT team to Gumb's address in Illinois. The house in Illinois is empty, and Starling is led to the house of "Jack Gordon", who she realizes is actually Jame Gumb, again by finding a sphinx moth. She pursues him into his multi-room basement, where she discovers that Catherine is still alive, but trapped in a dry well. After turning off the basement lights, Gumb stalks Starling in the dark with night-vision goggles, but gives his position away when he cocks his revolver. Starling reacts just in time and fires all of her rounds at Gumb, killing him.
Sometime later, at the FBI Academy graduation party, Starling receives a phone call from Lecter, who is at an airport in Bimini. He assures her that he does not plan to pursue her and asks her to return the favor, which she says she cannot do. Lecter then hangs up the phone, saying that he is "having an old friend for dinner", and starts following a newly arrived Chilton before disappearing into the crowd.
The Silence of the Lambs is based on Thomas Harris' 1988 novel of the same name and is the second film to feature the character Hannibal Lecter following the 1986 film Manhunter. Prior to the novel's release, Orion Pictures partnered with Gene Hackman to bring the novel to the big screen. With Hackman set to direct and possibly star in the role of Lecter, negotiations were made to split the $500,000 cost of rights between Hackman and the studio. In addition to securing the rights to the novel, producers also had to acquire the rights to the name "Hannibal Lecter", which were owned by Manhunter producer Dino De Laurentiis. Owing to the financial failure of the earlier film, De Laurentiis lent the character rights to Orion Pictures for free.
In November 1987, Ted Tally was brought on to write the adaptation; Tally had previously crossed paths with Harris many times, with his interest in adapting The Silence of the Lambs originating from receiving an advance copy of the book from Harris himself. When Tally was about halfway through with the first draft, Hackman withdrew from the project and financing fell through. However, Orion Pictures co-founder Mike Medavoy assured Tally to keep writing as the studio itself took care of financing and searched for a replacement director. As a result, Orion Pictures sought director Jonathan Demme to helm the project. With the screenplay not yet completed, Demme signed on after reading the novel. From there, the project quickly took off, as Tally explained, "[Demme] read my first draft not long after it was finished, and we met, then I was just startled by the speed of things. We met in May 1989 and were shooting in November. I don't remember any big revisions."
Jodie Foster was interested in playing the role of Clarice Starling immediately after reading the novel. However, despite Foster's having just won an Academy Award for her performance in the 1988 film The Accused, Demme was not convinced that she was right for the part. Having previously collaborated on Married to the Mob, Demme's first choice for the role of Starling was Michelle Pfeiffer, who turned it down, later saying, "It was a difficult decision, but I got nervous about the subject matter". As a result, Foster was awarded the role due to her passion towards the character.
For the role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Demme originally approached Sean Connery. After the actor turned it down, Anthony Hopkins was then offered the part based on his performance in The Elephant Man. Other actors considered for the role included Al Pacino,Robert De Niro,Dustin Hoffman,Derek Jacobi and Daniel Day-Lewis.
Gene Hackman was originally going to play Jack Crawford, the Agent-in-Charge of the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI in Quantico, Virginia but he found the script "too violent."Scott Glenn was then cast in the role. To prepare for the role, Glenn met with John E. Douglas, after whom the character is modeled. Douglas gave Glenn a tour of the Quantico facility and also played for him an audio tape containing various recordings that serial killers Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris had made of themselves raping and torturing a 16-year-old girl. According to Douglas, Glenn wept as he experienced the recordings and even changed his liberal stance on the death penalty.
Principal photography for The Silence of the Lambs began on November 15, 1989 and concluded on March 1, 1990. Filming primarily took place in and around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with some scenes shot in nearby northern West Virginia. The home of Buffalo Bill used for exterior scenes was in Layton, Pennsylvania. The exterior of the Western Center near Canonsburg, Pennsylvania served as the setting for Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. In what was a rare act of cooperation at the time, the FBI allowed scenes to be filmed at the FBI Academy in Quantico; some FBI staff members even acted in bit parts.
The musical score for The Silence of the Lambs was composed by Howard Shore, who would also go on to collaborate with Demme on Philadelphia. Recorded in Munich during the latter half of the summer of 1990, the score was performed by the Munich Symphony Orchestra. "I tried to write in a way that goes right into the fabric of the movie," explained Shore on his approach. "I tried to make the music just fit in. When you watch the movie you are not aware of the music. You get your feelings from all elements simultaneously, lighting, cinematography, costumes, acting, music. Jonathan Demme was very specific about the music." A soundtrack album was released by MCA Records on February 5, 1991. Music from the film was later used in the trailers for its sequel, Hannibal.
The tune played by the music box which Starling finds in the bedroom of Buffalo Bill's first victim is taken from Mozart's opera The Magic Flute. It is, ironically, the tune played by Papageno's magical bells, which charms his enemies and protects him from danger.
|4.||"Return to the Asylum"||2:35|
|6.||"Quid Pro Quo"||4:41|
|7.||"Lecter in Memphis"||5:41|
The Silence of the Lambs was released on February 14, 1991, grossing $14 million during its opening weekend. At the time it closed on October 10, 1991, the film had grossed $131 million domestically with a total worldwide gross of $273 million. It was the fourth highest-grossing film of 1991.
The Silence of the Lambs was a sleeper hit that gradually gained widespread success and critical acclaim. Hopkins, Foster, and Levine garnered much acclaim for their performances. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 95% of 84 film critics have given the film a positive review, with an average rating of 8.7 out of 10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Director Jonathan Demme's smart, taut thriller teeters on the edge between psychological study and all-out horror, and benefits greatly from stellar performances by Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster."Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 85 out of 100, based on 19 reviews from mainstream critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert, of the Chicago Sun-Times, specifically mentioned the "terrifying qualities" of Hannibal Lecter. Ebert later added the film to his list of The Great Movies, recognizing the film as a "horror masterpiece" alongside such classics as Nosferatu, Psycho, and Halloween. However, the film is also notable for being one of two multi-Academy Award winners (the other being Unforgiven) disapproved of by Ebert's colleague, Gene Siskel. Writing for the Chicago Tribune, Siskel said, "Foster's character, who is appealing, is dwarfed by the monsters she is after. I'd rather see her work on another case."
|Academy Awards record|
|Best Picture, Edward Saxon, Kenneth Utt, Ronald M. Bozman|
|Best Director, Jonathan Demme|
|Best Actor, Anthony Hopkins|
|Best Actress, Jodie Foster|
|Best Adapted Screenplay, Ted Tally|
|Golden Globe Awards record|
|Best Actress, Jodie Foster|
|British Academy Film Awards record|
|Best Actor, Anthony Hopkins|
|Best Actress, Jodie Foster|
The film won the Big Five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Demme), Best Actor (Hopkins), Best Actress (Foster), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Ted Tally), making it only the third film in history to accomplish that feat. It was also nominated for Best Sound Mixing (Tom Fleischman and Christopher Newman) and Best Film Editing, but lost to Terminator 2: Judgment Day and JFK, respectively.
Other awards include being named Best Film by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, CHI Awards and PEO Awards. Demme won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 41st Berlin International Film Festival and was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Director. The film was nominated for the Grand Prix of the Belgian Film Critics Association. It was also nominated for the British Academy Film Award for Best Film. Screenwriter Ted Tally received an Edgar Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay. The film was awarded Best Horror Film of the Year during the 2nd Horror Hall of Fame telecast, with Vincent Price presenting the award to the film's executive producer Gary Goetzman.
In 1998, the film was listed as one of the 100 greatest films in the past 100 years by the American Film Institute. In 2006, at the Key Art Awards, the original poster for The Silence of the Lambs was named best film poster "of the past 35 years".The Silence of the Lambs placed seventh on Bravo's The 100 Scariest Movie Moments for Lecter's escape scene. The American Film Institute named Hannibal Lecter (as portrayed by Hopkins) the number one film villain of all time and Clarice Starling (as portrayed by Foster) the sixth-greatest film hero of all time. In 2011, ABC aired a prime-time special, Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time, that counted down the best films chosen by fans based on results of a poll conducted by ABC and People magazine. The Silence of the Lambs was selected as the No. 1 Best Suspense/Thriller and Dr. Hannibal Lecter was selected as the No. 4 Greatest Film Character.
The film and its characters have appeared in the following AFI "100 Years" lists:
In 2015, Entertainment Weekly's 25th anniversary year, it included The Silence of the Lambs in its list of the 25 best movies made since the magazine's beginning.
Accusations of homophobia, transphobia and sexism
Upon its release, The Silence of the Lambs was criticized by members of the LGBT community for its portrayal of Buffalo Bill as bisexual and transsexual. In response to the critiques, Demme replied that Buffalo Bill "wasn't a gay character. He was a tormented man who hated himself and wished he was a woman because that would have made him as far away from himself as he possibly could be." Demme added that he "came to realize that there is a tremendous absence of positive gay characters in movies".
In a 1992 interview with Playboy magazine, notable feminist and women's rights advocate Betty Friedan stated, "I thought it was absolutely outrageous that The Silence of the Lambs won four [sic] Oscars. […] I'm not saying that the movie shouldn't have been shown. I'm not denying the movie was an artistic triumph, but it was about the evisceration, the skinning alive of women. That is what I find offensive. Not the Playboy centerfold."
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- ^Scott, Kevin Conroy (April 28, 2006). Screenwriters' Masterclass: Screenwriters Discuss their Greatest Films. New York City: HarperCollins. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
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- ^Davis, Cindy (February 27, 2012). "Mindhole Blowers: 20 Facts About The Silence of the Lambs That Might Make You Crave a Nice Chianti". Pajiba. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
- ^The Barbara Walters Special, American Broadcast Company, 1992
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- ^ abcdWhite, Peter (2017-11-06). "Jodie Foster Lifts The Lid On 'The Silence Of The Lambs' At BFI – Q&A". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2017-11-06.
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