In the fall of 2016, an army of more than 100,000 Iraqi soldiers and militia men mobilized to liberate Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, from the clutches of ISIS. Among them was embedded Iraqi journalist Ali Maula, who witnessed the temporary alliance between Sunnis, Shiites, Christians and Kurds — all of whom have differing motivations in the region, but are motivated by the unified goal of freeing their country from the scourge of ISIS.
MOSUL is a character-driven documentary that provides a snapshot of the controversial and larger than life characters impacting a political climate that has reached its boiling point: a Sunni tribal leader called “The Crocodile”; a lawyer-turned-warrior; a Iranian-backed female militia leader avenging the death of her husband; and the refugees who inhabit sprawling relief camps that are the scars of ISIS occupation.
Filmed on location between October 2016 and July 2017, the story is told as a journey into the heart of darkness through the eyes of a small band of Iraqi filmmakers who navigate up the Tigris River, from Baghdad to Mosul. As we near the end of Ali’s journey, we encounter a jailed ISIS prisoner who reveals the haunting truth behind his organization. In the aftermath of the largest siege since Stalingrad, sectarian conflict begins to re-emerge, and the tactical victory is met by a stark realization: that the war against ISIS may be over, but the seeds of another conflict have already been sown.
Following the screening, guests are invited to stay for a post-film discussion and audience Q&A with the filmmakers:
- Daniel Gabriel is the Director and Executive Producer of MOSUL. His knowledge and deep understanding of the region and its politics began while he was working as a CIA counterterrorism officer in 2003, eventually completing six tours to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. After his time with the CIA, Dan’s interest in film led him to complete graduate work in Filmmaking at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (2013), and in Producing (2014) at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television. This is his debut film.
- Ali Sada is the founder of IRFAD, an Iraq and US-based organization that supports international development programs with field research, local insights, access and implementation expertise in Iraq, Syria and across the Middle East. Mr. Sada is also the founder and co-editor of Daesh Daily, a daily English-language summary and analysis of local news sources, eyewitness reports and social media posts related to the ISIS terror group’s activities. He is an expert on ISIS’ use of social media and its online recruiting and propaganda methods.
- Jens Dakin is an international strategic communications professional, specializing in using insights obtained from challenging operating environments to develop impactful and culturally-sensitive outreach campaigns. Mr. Dakin previously served in the British Army in a variety of operational theaters, including Iraq, and is an Associate Producer on MOSUL.
- Rupert Parkes, known as Photek, is an LA-based British record producer, film & TV composer, and electronic music DJ. Photek is currently the composer on the ABC’s hit show How to Get Away with Murder. Photek was a game-changer in the UK dance music explosion of the 90’s, and after three consecutive Grammy Award nominations, his music has earned universal respect and acclaim.
The panel will be moderated by Howard Altman, managing editor of the Military Times. He is an award-winning editor and writer who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times, where he covered CENTCOM, SOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics. Altman’s work has appeared in the New York Times, Newsday, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, The Daily Beast, Wired, and many other publications around the world.