Finalist, Rory Peck Award for News Features

Olivier Sarbil (French)

October - November 2016, Iraq

Battle for Mosul

Commissioned and broadcast by Channel 4 News / ITN

Olivier spent six weeks on the frontline in Mosul following a group of young soldiers from the 1st Battalion - a special unit of Iraq’s elite Golden Division - who are spearheading the battle against IS. He follows the soldiers as they push into IS territory, facing fierce resistance from snipers, suicide bombers and shellfire, and shows the daily challenge of hunting ISIS militants who are hiding among the local population. This is an intimate, unvarnished portrait of the slow and grinding battle to free the people of Mosul, told through the eyes of a group of young men fighting for the future of their country. 

Watch the full entry here


Olivier Sarbil is a freelance filmmaker based in London. For the past year he’s been focused on the battle for Mosul, following an Iraqi Special Forces squad tasked with rooting out ISIS. Olivier has also covered conflicts in Libya, Syria, Gaza, Mali, Central African Republic and eastern Ukraine. He was a Rory Peck News finalist in 2015.

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Judges Comments

“Olivier brings us incredible footage and intimate insights into real life in Mosul as it’s prised from the grip of IS. He captured it all. The soldier whispering sweet nothings to his girlfriend on the phone; locals offering tea to the soldiers - touching civility in the midst of war and chaos; a man strumming a guitar in the street. Raw emotion and authentic life. He’s such a brilliant observer. It’s captivating, great work.”