Film Fervor: Episode 116 – Letters from Baghdad

Today I spoke with the co-creators of Letters from Baghdad, Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum and their incredible journey into film making. 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 modern Middle East after World War I in ways that still reverberate today. More influential than her friend and colleague Lawrence of Arabia, Bell helped draw the borders of Iraq and established the Iraq Museum. 

Letters from Baghdad is the story of a true original—Gertrude Bell—sometimes called the “female” Lawrence of Arabia. Voiced and executive produced by Academy award winning actor Tilda Swinton, the film tells the dramatic story of this British spy, explorer and political powerhouse. Bell traveled widely in Arabia before being recruited by British military intelligence during WWI to help draw the borders of Iraq and as a result helped shape the modern Middle East. Using stunning, never-seen-before footage of the region, the film chronicles her extraordinary journey into both the uncharted Arabian desert and the inner sanctum of British colonial power.

What makes the film stand apart is that the story is told entirely in the words of Gertrude Bell and her contemporaries, excerpted from their intimate letters, private diaries and official documents. 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 an incredible film that tells us so much about a period of our world that is often left out of the history books and, to my knowledge, is basically unheard of in the western world. The amount of research and digging that went into the film is staggering and the revelations that it provides is both eye opening and shocking.

Check out more about the film and both Sabine and Zeva on their website for the film:

and be sure to follow along on Twitter @LettFromBaghdad

About Justin Kincaid

Justin is the host of Film Fervor and a passionate lover of independent entertainment. Indie films are where people can truly express themselves and Justin believes that there are too many limitations on "mainstream" movies to be able to tell good stories.

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