Though T.E. Lawrence is often considered the person who most affected the modern Middle East, historians point to Gertrude Bell, the British explorer, spy and political powerhouse who was recruited by British Military Intelligence to shape Mesopotamia after World War I, and eventually drew the borders of Iraq. A new documentary “Letters From Baghdad” tells Bell’s story in her own words using Bell’s own letters, alongside archival films and photos, featuring actress Tilda Swinton as the voice of Bell. Watch an exclusive trailer for the film below.
Directed by Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum, the film features astonishing never-before-seen films clips from 25 archives around the world, which tells its own story contrary to popular ideas about Mesopotamia.
“Much of what we found was buried in reels that had been in storage for more than half a century,” says Oelbaum. Krayenbühl adds that they “were blown away by the vitality, the richness and the tapestry of different peoples populating the street scenes. After compiling more than 700 hours of footage, we felt as though we had truly entered a vanished world.”
The film is a presentation of Between the Rivers Productions, founded by Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl in 2012. Between the Rivers produces character-driven documentary films that explore extraordinary individuals through the intersection of history, culture, and film.
“Letters from Bagdad” premieres in New York at DOC NYC 2016 on Saturday, November 12 at 11:15 a.m. ET at the SVA Theatre.