‘Iraqi Sniper’ – being produced by two-time Oscar-nominee Hany Abu-Assad – will be an anti-war response to Clint Eastwood’s 2014 hit, telling the story behind the chief foe of Bradley Cooper’s character.
Amr Salama, the award-winning Egyptian director who is bringing his latest film Sheikh Jackson to Toronto next month, is developing a feature aimed squarely at one of the biggest war movies of all time.
Iraqi Sniper (working title), will tell the “other side of the story of American Sniper, the story about the villain,” Salama tells THR.
In Clint Eastwood’s 2014 box-office smash American Sniper, Bradley Cooper starred as top U.S. marksman Chris Kyle. His chief antagonist in the film was a mysterious sniper on the side of the Iraqi insurgents who went by the name of Mustafa.
“He’s the hero in my film,” says Salama, who says he was incensed into making the film when he first saw American Sniper. “I hated it. That was my inspiration – I hated it so much that I wanted to work on a different version of that story.”
There was indeed a real-life top sniper fighting for the Iraqis, given the nickname Juba, whose exploits – thought by some to be hundreds of kills – were touted in a number of videos released between 2005 and 2007. There were rumors that he had even been an Olympic athlete at one point.
“But I’m trying to make an anti-war film,” says Salama. “Whereas American Sniper was pro-war.”
And to make his project – which is currently in the script stage – Salama is working with two of region’s biggest names. Prolific Egyptian producer Mohamed Hefzy, who Salama collaborated with on both Sheikh Jackson and his 2014 hit Excuse My French, is producing, alongside Hany Abu-Assad, the Palestinian director who earned Oscar nominations for both Paradise Now and Omar (and has the Kate Winslet and Idris Elba-starring Mountain Between Us bowing at TIFF), and Abu-Assad’s wife Amira…