Project of the Day: ‘Letters From Baghdad’

Project of the Day: 'Letters From Baghdad'
Project of the Day: 'Letters From Baghdad'

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“Letters From Baghdad: A Film about Gertrude Bell”

Tweetable Logline:
A documentary on Gertrude Bell, the most powerful woman in the British
Empire, who drew Iraq’s borders before disappearing from history

Elevator Pitch:
Letters from Baghdad tells the dramatic story of British-born Gertrude
Bell, sometimes referred to as the female Lawrence of Arabia. An
adventurer, spy, archaeologist and powerful political force, she was
recruited by British Military Intelligence to help reshape the Middle
East after World War I.

She drew the borders of Iraq, helped install its first king and
established the Baghdad Museum of Antiquities which was infamously
looted during the 2003 American invasion. She advocated for Iraqi
self-rule and openly criticized colonial policy. The circumstances of
her death by an overdose of sleeping pills at age 58 remains a mystery.

Production Team:

We are Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl, the founding partners of
Between the Rivers Productions. We started working together 6 years ago
on a film about another extraordinary woman, journalist Ruth Gruber.
Zeva produced that film and Sabine was the editor. We discovered that we
have the same sensibility, and that we collaborate incredibly well.
When we found out that we both loved the story of Gertrude Bell, we
decided to embark on making LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD. Sabine is an ACE award
nominated editor who edited over 20 feature documentaries including
Academy award-nominated MY ARCHITECT, MAD HOT BALLROOM, and MY
REINCARNATION. Zeva is an award-winning producer whose film, AHEAD OF
TIME, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, was
broadcast on Showtime Channel and won 5 Best Documentary awards. Zeva
came to film from a career in still photography and her work has been
extensively published and exhibited.

Our combined films have screened theatrically, at every major
international festival, and have broadcast on networks including HBO,
Showtime, PBS, ARTE, and BBC.

About the Production: 
As female filmmakers, we are intrigued with the choices that
trail-blazing women must make. What was it like to be a woman ahead of
her time? What was it like to be a powerful woman, when other women were

Our film could not be more timely, in light of the current events in
Middle East and at the 100th anniversary of WWI, when the world is
reexamining the impact of colonialism and ongoing Western policies in
the region. The decisions Gertrude Bell and her colleagues made changed
the geopolitical map of the world and still affect the region today.

Current Status: Fundraising for archival footage digitzation

For more information and to support this project: Kickstarter Page

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