Iraqi Film Aims To Tell Story Of Heroism Across Religions In Mosul

Iraqi Film Aims To Tell Story Of Heroism Across Religions In Mosul

Iraqi author Ali al-Jabiri has made a film dramatizing an episode from the government's campaign to recapture the city of Mosul from Islamic State (ISIS), albeit with the financial backing of a Shia Muslim militia keen to promote the story of its fighters ignoring religious differences to rescue a kidnapped Christian girl.

The battle, which began in October and may still have months to run, has been dogged by fears for the safety of civilians.

Hundreds have been killed, and the government says 400,000 remain trapped inside the densely populated Old City, while at least 355,000 have fled the fighting, often risking shooting or other reprisals by ISIS to cross the front line and reach safety.

It has been at pains to reassure Mosul's largely Sunni population that the irregular Shia Popular Mobilisation Forces or Hashid Shaabi, which have been supporting federal forces, will not target members of other religious groups for perceived collaboration with ISIS.

Jabiri said the militiamen's actions provided hope that Iraq could overcome the sectarian divisions that have been fuelling violence since 2003.

He said the mother in Mosul, already bereaved, had been trying to take her remaining family members to safety in Mosul when ISIS fighters had kidnapped her 6-year-old daughter.

"Though the Iraqi forces knew well beforehand that the kidnapped girl was from a different religion, they rushed to save the girl ... with no regard for the sacrifices and perils they faced," he said. "They didn't differentiate between this or that religion and community."

Jabiri spoke to the mother by telephone while writing the script.

He shot the film in just eight days on a shoestring budget of no more than $33,000, with a cast made up mostly of drama students from Basra's Institute and Academy of Fine Arts plus the Institute's director, Dr. Khilood Jabar, who plays the mother. But he acknowledged the crucial role of funding from the local Popular Mobilisation Committee, which had also provided military equipment.

The 25-minute movie was filmed in the Shuaiba district of Basra, which bears some resemblance to Mosul. It takes its name, "Dul Dul", from a horse in Islamic history that has become a symbol for daring and bravery.

Jabiri has previously directed two other short films: "Ajwan", the story of a girl from the minority Ezidi sect kidnapped and raped by jihadists, and "Nadam" ("Repentance"), which has a social theme.