A reporter goes behind enemy lines in riveting ISIS doc.

I was given a Vimeo screener of an ISIS documentary called “Mosul” from a fellow who is interested in my film criticism work. The fellow is director Daniel Gabriel, who worked as a counter-terrorism officer in the CIA, and made this movie about the Iraqi city of Mosul battling against ISIS.

We all know about the horrors ISIS has brought upon the world. Since the U.S. Army gave up fighting, they took their American weapons and tanks, and began one attack after another. They slaughtered a variety of people from homosexuals to Christians; and their tortures include gunshots, throwing off buildings, and drowning in cages. Some were lucky enough to escape.

En route to interview Nasser, a detained ISIS attacker behind enemy lines, Iraqi journalist Ali Maula hears stories from a female fighter named Um Hanadi, who lost her husband in the landmines, and leads an army of men against the terrorist organization. And he also acknowledges the Iraqi government’s fighting skills-their military, their weapons, and their persistence.

We may not always comprehend what goes behind enemy lines, but “Mosul” represents the misery and bravery of the victims and heroes. More or less before ISIS, fires burn, families are murdered, and poverty prevails. And both Daniel Gabriel and Ali Maula gets the facts they need to understand the meaning of it all.

Christopher Campbell’s editing keeps everything organized and paced, and the cinematography is riveting as we’re able to see the scope. Credit for that goes to Hussein Alla, Ayhab Awaad, Khalid Al Bayatti, Riyadh Gheni, and Anas Al Taiee. But best of all, Photek’s score matches the complexion and tone of an international thriller and political documentary. In fact, “Mosul” is both genres.

But honestly, it reminds us about the monsters in that country, and the people who support them outside. You never know where they could be hiding, and neither does Ali Maula. But what we do know is that both sides of the war have their own opinions and reasoning.

I usually check out documentaries that I can relate to, and I’m not all that big in politics. But I’m able to thrive on the stories and facts, as long as they’re honest and consistent. An entry in the Cleveland International Film Festival, “Mosul” is serious, thrilling, and well-documented. This is for people who are glued to the news, and for schools who want to teach students about the reality of it all.


Comes on Digital platforms May 19

You can pre-order the movie here:

Categories: Documentary, History

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