Jake Gyllenhaal Set To Star In War Flick 'The Anarchists Vs ISIS'

Jake Gyllenhaal and Life director Daniel Espinosa are teaming up again. According to the reports, the duo joins forces for a project entitled The Anarchists vs ISIS and will explore the battlegrounds of Northern Syria.


Gyllenhaal in the 2005 war drama Jarhead (Image: Flickr/FILM~LIEBHABER)

Punks, liberals and drug addicts against ISIS

The film is an adaptation of the Rolling Stone feature by Seth Harp, The Anarchists vs The Islamic State.

In November 2016, Harp traveled to Rojava, a Kurdish-occupied region of Northern Syria and bastion of radical leftism. The vacuum created when Assad pulled out of the region in 2012 allowed the formation of the Kurdish People's Protection Units or YPG.

The collectivist ideology and radical inclusiveness of the YPG – including gender-neutrality and ethnic tolerance – got the attention of anarchists and socialists in the West. Harp describes his encounters with former punks, liberals and drug addicts drawn to the political cause of the YPG and their effort to build an autonomous government.

The primary foe of the YPG is the Islamic State, however, they are also protecting Rojava from encroachment by the Turkish army in the West. Kurdish commanders train the Western volunteers – most of whom have no combat experience – and deploy them to strategic posts along the Rojavan front.


Brace Belden, one of the American YPG volunteers (Photo: The Rolling Stone via Brace Belden)

Rojava has been likened to the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s where the International Brigade – a volunteer Army of leftist Western intellectuals including Woody Guthrie and Ernest Hemingway – fought alongside democratic revolutionaries against the fascist Franco government. However, Rojava is much less a cause-célèbre in today's world.

With the Anarchists vs ISIS project, Gyllenhaal and Espinosa will definitely elevate the Kurdish struggle to the mainstream spotlight. But it is unclear what the commentary will be. The AV Club compared the project to War Dogs, the satirical war film starring Jonah Hill, also based on a Rolling Stone piece.

The project has already drawn criticism from one of the most well-known American YPG volunteers, Brace Belden, who found about the project on Twitter.

A former Bay Area punk musician, Belden tweets darkly funny dispatches from the Syrian front under the handle @PissPigGrandad. He has no interest in participating in the adaptation.

When asked by Exclaim! magazine about his potential role in the project, Belden said any involvement would be 'corny' and 'anti-revolutionary.'

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