Matthew Michael Carnahan has a whole bunch of impressive writing credits to his name including Deepwater Horizon, World War Z, The Kingdom and more, but he was eager to do even more on Mosul; he wanted to make this film his directorial debut. The film is a hugely ambitious first feature with a script based on a New Yorker essay by Luke Mogelson about the situation in war-torn Mosul. Carnahan’s film focuses on a Nineveh SWAT team as they fight to end the bloodshed in their homeland. That team is lead by Suhail Dabbach as Major Jasem and also includes Adam Bessa‘s character, Kawa, a young rookie police officer recruited to join Jasem’s unit.
With Mosul celebrating its North American Premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, Carnahan, Dabbach and Bessa all visited the Collider Lounge to talk about their experience making the film. Give the video at the top of this article a watch to hear why Carnahan opted to make Mosul his first directing project, the global search to assemble the cast, why Mosul marks a major milestone for Dabbach, Bessa and cinema overall, and so much more. And if you’d like to hear even more about Mosul, you can click here for another interview with producers Joe and Anthony Russo and executive producer Mohamed Al-Daradji.
We also need to send a big thank you to our presenting sponsor Nordstrom Canada and supporting partners Marriott Bonvoy and Ciroc Vodka for supporting the Collider Lounge at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and helping to make these interviews happen.
You can find a full breakdown of the interview and the official TIFF synopsis for Mosul below:
Suhail Dabbach, Adam Bessa, Matthew Michael Carnahan:
- 00:21 – Carnahan on what Mosul is about and why he chose to make it his feature directorial debut.
- 02:35 – Carnahan on the challenging casting process.
- 04:25 – Dabbach on getting this film at this point in his career.
- 05:40 – Dabbach on the incredible cast and crew of Mosul.
- 06:35 – How did Bessa celebrate when he found out he got the role?
- 07:09 – What is it about Carnahan as an actor’s director that makes him stand out.
- 08:44 – Carnahan on the scene he was most nervous to shoot.
Kawa (Adam Bessa), a 21-year-old police officer, barely survives a firefight. When the smoke clears he meets the men who saved his life, the Nineveh SWAT, led by Jasem (Suhail Dabbach). Kawa’s own uncle was recently killed by ISIS. He joins the group, though they’ve been reduced to just a dozen men with three Humvees and a surplus of cigarettes. Before his first day with Nineveh SWAT is over, Kawa will witness the rescue of a child and the death of several colleagues, take revenge on a man who betrayed him, and participate in the ambush of an ISIS stronghold.