Letters from Baghdad

18 Oct 2017

Directors: Sabine Krayenbühl & Zeva Oelbaum

USA, UK, France


95 min

Voiced by Tilda Swinton, this fascinating documentary explores the remarkable life of English writer, archaeologist, diplomat and spy, Gertrude Bell. As a young woman, Bell travelled extensively throughout the Middle East producing maps and scholarly works. Eventually, her extraordinary talents were recognised by British Military Intelligence and Bell wielded significant political power in British Imperial policy across the Middle East. Fluent in Arabic and Persian, she worked closely with tribal Arabs to help soldiers move across the desert during World War One. Openly critical of colonialism, this film shows how Bell’s work offered a counterpoint to typical British male colonial power. The directors present a rich tapestry of archive footage alongside narrated text from Bell’s letters and testimony from her peers, including T E Lawrence and Vita Sackville-West.

Winner Best Feature Film Beirut International Film Festival 2016