Letters From Baghdad

  •   Hawkhurst
  •   Rye

Hawkhurst

Letters From Baghdad (PG) 93mins

Letters from Baghdad tells the extraordinary and dramatic story of Gertrude Bell, the most powerful woman in the British Empire in her day. She shaped the destiny of Iraq afer World War I in ways that still reverberate today. More influential than her friend and colleague Lawrence of Arabia, why has she been written out of the history she helped make?

Voiced and executive produced by Academy award winning actor Tilda Swinton, the documentary tells the dramatic story of this British spy, explorer and political powerhouse. Bell traveled widely in Arabia before being recruited by British military intelligence to help draw the borders of Iraq after WWI. Using never-seen-before footage of the region, the film chronicles Bell’s extraordinary journey into both the uncharted Arabian desert and the inner sanctum of British male colonial power. With unique access to documents from the Iraq National Library and Archive and Gertrude Bell’s own 1600 letters, the story is told entirely in the words of the players of the day, excerpted verbatim from intimate letters, private diaries and secret communiqués. It is a unique look at both a remarkable woman and the tangled history of Iraq. The film takes us into a past that is eerily current.

'This is a fascinating documentary on Gertrude Bell, the English explorer, writer, diplomat, Arabist and possible spy, who was a contemporary of TE Lawrence -- but much less well known' The Times

'[An] intriguing overview of the origins of Iraq' Radio Times

'Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum's elegant mix of voiceover, archive footage and talking heads lets "the female Lawrence of Arabia" largely speak for herself, illuminating the pivotal role she played in shaping today's Middle East' Total Film

'As history is invariably written by male victors, "the female Lawrence of Arabia" has been largely airbrushed out of the accounts of Britain's attempts to create an Arab state in the Middle East in the aftermath of the Great War. First-time directors Sabin Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum spent years amassing archive footage in a bid to do justice to the legacy of Gertrude Bell, the Oxford-educated explorer, cartographer, archaeologist and political attaché whose correspondence is thoughtfully read by Tilda Swinton in this intriguing overview of the origins of Iraq. With a fine cast speaking to camera in the guise of Bell's contemporaries, the documentary has the scholastic rigour to avoid hagiography. Indeed, it's as frank about Bell's snobbery and vanity as it is about the passionate affairs that dominate Werner Herzog's ill-starred biopic Queen of the Desert (2015). But this also suggests how differently things might have turned out in this tinderbox region had British Commissioner Arnold Wilson not rejected Bell's informed proposals for the governing of King Faisal I's ethnically and spiritually diverse (and combustible) realm'  Radio Times

 

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE


PLAY TRAILER play trailer

Rye

Letters From Baghdad (PG) 93mins

Letters from Baghdad tells the extraordinary and dramatic story of Gertrude Bell, the most powerful woman in the British Empire in her day. She shaped the destiny of Iraq afer World War I in ways that still reverberate today. More influential than her friend and colleague Lawrence of Arabia, why has she been written out of the history she helped make?

Voiced and executive produced by Academy award winning actor Tilda Swinton, the documentary tells the dramatic story of this British spy, explorer and political powerhouse. Bell traveled widely in Arabia before being recruited by British military intelligence to help draw the borders of Iraq after WWI. Using never-seen-before footage of the region, the film chronicles Bell’s extraordinary journey into both the uncharted Arabian desert and the inner sanctum of British male colonial power. With unique access to documents from the Iraq National Library and Archive and Gertrude Bell’s own 1600 letters, the story is told entirely in the words of the players of the day, excerpted verbatim from intimate letters, private diaries and secret communiqués. It is a unique look at both a remarkable woman and the tangled history of Iraq. The film takes us into a past that is eerily current.

'This is a fascinating documentary on Gertrude Bell, the English explorer, writer, diplomat, Arabist and possible spy, who was a contemporary of TE Lawrence -- but much less well known' The Times

'[An] intriguing overview of the origins of Iraq' Radio Times

'Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum's elegant mix of voiceover, archive footage and talking heads lets "the female Lawrence of Arabia" largely speak for herself, illuminating the pivotal role she played in shaping today's Middle East' Total Film

'As history is invariably written by male victors, "the female Lawrence of Arabia" has been largely airbrushed out of the accounts of Britain's attempts to create an Arab state in the Middle East in the aftermath of the Great War. First-time directors Sabin Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum spent years amassing archive footage in a bid to do justice to the legacy of Gertrude Bell, the Oxford-educated explorer, cartographer, archaeologist and political attaché whose correspondence is thoughtfully read by Tilda Swinton in this intriguing overview of the origins of Iraq. With a fine cast speaking to camera in the guise of Bell's contemporaries, the documentary has the scholastic rigour to avoid hagiography. Indeed, it's as frank about Bell's snobbery and vanity as it is about the passionate affairs that dominate Werner Herzog's ill-starred biopic Queen of the Desert (2015). But this also suggests how differently things might have turned out in this tinderbox region had British Commissioner Arnold Wilson not rejected Bell's informed proposals for the governing of King Faisal I's ethnically and spiritually diverse (and combustible) realm'  Radio Times

 

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE


PLAY TRAILER play trailer