A Documentary Film

Season’s Greetings and Best Wishes from the Letters from Baghdad team as we look ahead into the New Year!

“How big the world is. How big and how wonderful…”

Gertrude Bell, Tehran, Persia 1892

Gertrude Bell first traveled to the Middle East when she visited her uncle, Frank Lascelles, British ambassador to Tehran, in 1892. She would remain capitivated by it for the rest of her life. While in Tehran, the 23-year Oxford graduate mastered the Persian language, Farsi, and began a prolific writing career as she sought to share the wonders of the East with a broader audience. In 1897, she published The Poems from the Divan of Hafiz – which is considered by many to be the finest English translation of the work of the revered Persian poet, Hafiz.

Project Update…

We have spent the last several months pulling together all elements of the film leading to our final edit: scanning footage, recording narration, composing the score, mixing sound, retouching color and animation design.  Scouring the world’s archives for the finest quality vintage footage led us to the 39° underground vaults of The Library of Congress’s National Audio-Video Conservation Center where we manually scrolled through reels of nitrate encrusted footage from the 1910s and 1920s.

Update from our partners & advisors…


A new exhibit at The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) – The Eye of the Shah: Qajar Court Photography and the Persian Past shows how photographers – many of them engaged by the longest reigning Shah of the Qajar Dynasty (1785-1925) – ultimately created a portrait of Iran’s ancient and recent past.

It’s not too late to join the LFB team…

We continue to raise funds for production and post-production costs.  You can donate to the film on our website, and please spread the word about Letters from Baghdad through Facebook and TwitterThank you so much!

About the film…

Directed by Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum, Letters From Baghdad tells the story of Gertrude Bell who left the confines of Edwardian England to seek freedom and independence in the Arabian desert and became the most powerful woman of her day in the British Empire. In the aftermath of WWI, Bell helped draw the borders of modern Iraq, was instrumental in installing its first king and founded the Iraq Museum that was infamously ransacked in 2003. The first feature-length documentary on Gertrude Bell, the film will explore the choices that trail blazing women make, and how decisions made by Bell and her colleagues continue to influence current events in the Middle East and the world today.

Be sure to join us on: Facebook | Twitter | Official Website | LFB Trailer

At top: Qasr-e Shirin, Iran 1911, Photograph by Gertrude Bell, courtesy of the Gertrude Bell Archives, Newcastle University

At middle:  The Library of Congress’s National Audio-Video Conservation Center in Culpeper Virginia

Categories: News, Newsletter

       |  2017 © Between the Rivers Productions, LLC