A Documentary Film

Update from Gertrude Bell’s 1914 journey to Hail…

“Turkiyyeh, a Circassian…told me that Ibrahim sent her to welcome me in case I did not know Arabic…Under her dark purple cloak – all the women are closely veiled here – she was dressed in brilliant red and purple cotton robes and she wore ropes of rough pearls round her neck…She is a chatterbox of the first order and I passed an exceedingly amusing hour in her company.”

After two month of desert travel by camel, Gertrude Bell was welcomed into the city of Hail by the lively Turkiyyeh on behalf of the ruling Rashid family who rarely allowed western visitors into their walled city, particularly one who might be allied with their archrival the Saud family. Bell soon found herself a captive for eight days as they considered what do with her and whether or not she was an enemy. Ultimately she was released to go on to Baghdad. Yet her forced stay opened a unique window into an exotic, timeless world of tribal intrigue, harems and internecine warfare.
Turkiyyeh at Hail

March is Women’s History Month – Honor a Woman in your Life!


We are launching our Kickstarter campaign during Women’s History Month in March to honor Gertrude Bell, the brilliant and powerful woman who had a significant historical impact on the modern Middle East.

Her story has been largely excluded from the history that we read and are taught in school. She was overshadowed by the legend of Lawrence of Arabia and omitted from the memoirs of most of her male colleagues.

It is time to bring her story back!

We ask you to honor a woman in your life by participating and/or spreading the word to friends and colleagues about our Kickstarter campaign. Please look out for the next e-mail with our launch announcement.

Some of you may ask “What is Kickstarter?” It is the leading online site for raising money for creative projects through “crowdfunding.” The magic of crowdfunding is realized by maximizing the number of people supporting your project by spreading the word and giving (as little as $5 and up to $10,000) and receiving a reward such as a special edition DVD or even an on-screen credit.

You can visit the Kickstarter website to learn more about how it works, and we will be sure to provide you with more detail when we launch our campaign in March. We are so grateful for all your support!

Upcoming Events…

Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl will make the following presentations and in-progress film screenings in March. Please join us if you are in the area!

March 5th  Wednesday 7:30pm   Williams College  Williamstown, MA  01267

March 11th Tuesday 7:00 pm Darien Library Darien, CT 06820

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, was instrumental in installing its first king and founded the Baghdad Museum of Antiquities. The first feature-length documentary on Gertrude Bell, the film will explore 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.

Be sure to join us on: Facebook and Twitter!

Images: Top-Gertrude Bell; Middle-Turkiyyeh in Hail by Gertrude Bell; Courtesy of: Gertrude Bell Archives, Newcastle University.

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