A Documentary Film

Update from the Letters from Baghdad

“There is nothing more curious in the history of the human race than the way in which knowledge ebbs and flows. One generation is acquainted with arts and sciences of which its descendents a few hundred years later are completely ignorant and which are slowly reconquered by a laborious process of re-discovery.” — Gertrude Bell

These words found new resonance at the two day conference on Gertrude Bell held this September at The British Academy in London. Experts from around the world – Iraq, Turkey, France, the U.K., Canada, the U.S. and Singapore – gathered to present papers examining all aspects of Gertrude Bell’s life.

Sponsored by The British Institute for the Study of Iraq (BISI), The British Academy and Newcastle University, the conference turned a spotlight on Bell’s influence on British policy in the Middle East, the formation of the modern state of Iraq and Middle Eastern archaeology.  The relevance of her career and the impact of her work, examined within the context of current events, was especially evident through the new scholarship that was presented.

The conference created the perfect forum for the screening of our 30 minute work-in-progress of Letters from Baghdad. We are so grateful to BISI for giving us the unique opportunity to present to an audience that could not have been more knowledgeable and enthusiastic about our subject.  We are thrilled by the tremendous support for the film.

Back in New York, we were selected to screen our work-in-progress at Lincoln Center as part of IFP Spotlight on Documentaries. Over four days, we met with 30 broadcasters, funders, film festivals and distributors, and the response was extremely encouraging.

Coming up in November

Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist ArtPlease join us at 2pm Sunday November 17th at the Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. We will discuss Gertrude Bell and screen a 30 minute work-in-progess of our film.


We would like to welcome Executive Producers Denise Benmosche and Elizabeth Chandler, British Co-Producer Nikki Parrot (Tigerlily Films) and Consulting Producers Andrea Miller and Carla Solomon (Anthos Media) to our filmmaking team. We are excited to be collaborating with such an accomplished group.

Join the Letters from Baghdad Team…

Letters from Baghdad would not be possible without the generous contributions of our supporters. As we now move into production, we have set a goal to raise the funds required for this phase by December 31st.  Every new supporter moves us closer to completing the film by late spring 2014, and we thank you for helping us to reach our year-end goal! Donations are tax deductible for U.S. contributors.

Please click here to make a donation:

As a thank you for your support and generosity, contributions will entitle you to invitations to special events and premieres and, at certain levels, to receive on-screen credit.

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 World War I, Bell drew the borders of modern Iraq, installed its first king and founded the Baghdad Museum of Antiquities.  The film, the first feature-length documentary on Gertrude Bell, explores the choices that trail blazing women almost always have to make, and how her actions and the decisions she made in the formation of modern Iraq continue to influence current events in the Middle East and the world today.

Please visit our website for more info:

Photography:  Top – Samarra, Iraq 1909; Below – Gertrude Bell on far right with her father and half-sisters. Courtesy of the Gertrude Bell Archive at Newcastle University Library.


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