A Documentary Film

Exciting News!

We are thrilled to announce that Letters from Baghdad has received a development grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The NEH awarded $14.6 million in grants for 202 humanities projects. Our film is one of only two development grants awarded for film in this cycle. Click here to see the NEH press release: http://www.neh.gov/news/press-release/2013-12-02

Why our film needs to be made…

“I’ve just got Mother’s letter of Dec 15 saying there’s a fandango about my report. The general line taken by the press seems to be that it’s most remarkable that a dog should be able to stand up on its hind legs at all – i.e. a female write a white paper. I hope they’ll drop that source of wonder and pay attention to the report itself, it will help them to understand what Mesopotamia is like.”

In 1920, the presentation of Gertrude Bell’s ground-breaking 149 page white paper “Review of the Civil Administration of Mesopotamia” was applauded by both houses of British Parliament. At the time, she was widely acknowledged to be one of the most influential and famous of the British people in Arabia.


And yet since that time, Gertrude Bell has been systematically written out of the history of the region. In spite of the fact that she provided the tribal notes and maps relied upon by T.E. Lawrence in the Arab Revolt that made him famous, Bell was not mentioned once in his most recent biography.

Our presentation in November at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum struck a chord judging from the incredible turnout and animated discussion. There is clearly great interest and demand for the stories of amazing women whose legacies have been erased from history and, while there are many important “untold stories,” few are as relevant today as Bell’s. Understanding how the modern Middle East evolved is crucial to understanding current events in the region. And as the 100th anniversary of WWI approaches, the story of trailblazing Gertrude Bell as told by Letters from Baghdad has a vital place in the full examination of the history of both the region and the time.


Welcome to our new partners…

The Iraq National Library and Archive in Baghdad will give us unique access to archives recently recovered and restored from the tragic destruction and looting of 2003 and contribute to the film’s portrayal of the Arab perspective of Bell’s role in the region.

The Museum for Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin which houses the Samarra Archives, will help us explore Bell’s close relationship with German archeologists who were excavating extensively in Mesopotamia before WWI.

It’s the season of giving…

We hope you share our passion for shining a light on Gertrude Bell’s place in history and ask you for your support during this holiday season. As a gift for the many people on your holiday list, please consider making a tax-deductible donation in their name to the development and production of Letters from Baghdad. Contributions will entitle the gift recipient to invitations to special events and premieres and, at certain levels, to receive on-screen credit.

To make a donation, please click: http://lettersfrombaghdadthemovie.com/donate/

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 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: http://lettersfrombaghdadthemovie.com/

Photography: Top – Bell between Churchhill and Lawrence tt the Cairo Conference, Giza, Eygpt 1921; Middle – The New York Herald July 24, 1921; Bottom – Bell with Syrian Delegation at Cairo Conference 1921.


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