Coming to theatres today, Friday, April 12:
The diverse coalition of anti-ISIS forces fighting to free Mosul is viewed through the eyes of an Iraqi journalist.
Daniel Gabriel’s film chronicles the liberation of Mosul from ISIS/Daesh in 2016-2017 as seen by journalist Ali Maula, who serves here as a too-frequent narrator, while the latter heads north along the Tigris, meeting various members of the surprisingly diverse but tenuous coalition of Iraqi fighters trying to win back their freedom, and frequent worrying about the sectarian divisions that will likely continue the violence regardless. The doc profiles several of the coalition leaders, from outspoken Sunni tribal leaders and commanders (including a female Sunni militia commander who lost her own husband to battle) to an Iraqi Army Special Ops commander, a Kurdish Pershmerga fighter, and a Christian soldier. As Maula follows the combat, bringing some sense of normalcy to cleared areas, his crew speaks to civilians and soldiers as they struggle with PTSD and the trauma of war, but perhaps the most chilling interview is with an ISIS detainee, who appears in silhouette and speaks ominously about the long-lasting impact of radical Islamic ideology which he claims will win out in the end. While addressing a complex and compelling subject, the film suffers from the approach taken, with Maula’s centrality lending the project a TV feel and the mix of profiles and ridealongs resulting in a disjointed effort as a whole.