We are delighted to share our latest update on our documentary film about Gertrude Bell, Letters From Baghdad.
“We look upon past civilization and see it, not as it was, but charged with the significance of that through which we gaze…“
‘From Amurath to Amurath’ by Gertrude Bell 1910
Gertrude Bell’s passion for archaeology led her to travel to many of the most significant sites in the Middle East, including Babylon, Hatra, Nineveh and the ancient city of Ur. Her writings, sketches and photographs continue to be invaluable to the historical documentation of these cultural treasures. Tragically, many of these priceless sites have become the target of systematic destruction and vandalism by ISIS.
When Bell arrived in Baghdad in 1917, her deep appreciation for the region’s history informed her vision for Iraq, and she believed that a common cultural heritage could help create a national identity for the new state. In 1922, King Faisal I appointed Bell Honorary Director of Antiquities. She wrote Iraq’s first Law of Antiquities and established the Iraq Museum.
We have just wrapped up two weeks of production and research in London, and are thrilled as the major elements of the film are coming together. We want to send a HUGE thank you to our tremendous London cast and crew for a wonderfully productive and enjoyable experience, and to the Sands Film Studio for providing a magical place to do our work.
Welcome to our new Executive Producers…
We are excited to announce that the Letters from Baghdad team continues to grow! Executive Producers Ashley Garrett and Alan (AJ) Jones bring a deep knowledge of and love for modern British history and a weath of experience in the realm of the performing arts, photography and global finance to our film’s production.
Update from our partners & advisors…
Our partner The British Institute for the Study of Iraq (BISI) continues to be on the forefront of calling for international action to stop the cultural destruction ongoing in Syria and Iraq.
BISI runs a scholarship programme to support and retrain Iraqi scholars and cultural heritage experts. In the challenging situation Iraq is currently facing, this work is more important than ever.
Letters from Baghdad advisor Eugene Rogan has published a fascinating new book: The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East. Called “an absorbing history of the impact of the first world war on the Middle East” by The Guardian, the book has been widely reviewed and welcomed for its perspective on the role of the Ottoman Empire during WWI. Rogan is the Director of the Middle East Centre at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford.
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 Twitter. 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.
Photography courtesy of the Gertrude Bell Archives, Newcastle University:
At top: Gertrude Bell taking measurements at Ukhaidir, 1909
At middle: Palace at Hatra, Iraq, 1911