Letters

From

Baghdad

A Documentary Film

“We have been steaming up the river all the morning, through a familiar landscape of palm groves and Arab huts with apricot trees blooming here and there in untidy mud and walled gardens – I’m so glad to see it all again and I feel as if I were in my own country once more…Now it remains to be seen whether they find a job for me or send me away without delay…”

Gertrude Bell, March 1916

Dear Friends,

Women’s History Month 2016 marked the 100th anniversary of Gertrude Bell’s arrival in Basra, via the Shatt Al-Arab River, where she began the political work that would shape post-WWI Iraq. Bell was hired as an official member of the Indian Expeditionary Force-D and became the first female British Military Intelligence officer. General Sir Gilbert F. Clayton broke ranks with his colleagues and insisted that Bell was more qualified for this position than the male officer who was to be hired. Clayton wrote in a memo to General Sir Reginald Wingate: “Major Blaker is very intelligent…but has never been in the East before. I went to Sir Percy and explained that the Bureau was a Foreign Office affair, and insisted that its correspondent must be intimate with the work of the political side…Miss Bell is already doing the tribal and geographical work the Bureau needs…Sir Percy eventually agreed to alter his decision.”

Project Update…

We are thrilled to announce that we have nearly finished the film and are now submitting it to international film festivals. Check out our new teaser.

Update from our partners & advisors…

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We are pleased to welcome our new partner, the American Sephardi Federation. ASF is a membership organization that preserves and promotes the rich mosaic culture of Jews from the Middle East and throughout the greater Sephardic Diaspora. We are also delighted that David E. R. Dangoor, Honorary Consul General of Sweden in New York, has joined the Letters from Baghdad team and provided major funding for our film.

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Don’t miss the wonderful exhibit at Great North Museum: Hancock in Newcastle-on-Tyne “The Extraordinary Gertrude Bell”, co-curated by our advisor and manager of the Gertrude Bell Photographic Archive at Newcastle University, Dr. Mark Jackson. (until May 3rd, 2016)




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Thank 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: Basrah ‘Ashar Creek, Iraq, 1916, Photograph by Gertrude Bell.

At middle:  Gertrude Bell with King Faisal and British officers at Ctesiphon1921

Photographs courtesy of the Gertrude Bell Archives, Newcastle University

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