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Letters from Baghdad

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Gertrude Bell was a pioneering English writer, archaeologist, diplomat and spy whose travels through the Arabian desert gave her local knowledge unparalleled by her British peers. Recruited by British Military Intelligence after World War I, she played a significant – often unrecognised – role in British imperial policy-making in the Middle East, notably Iraq. Openly critical of colonial practices, Bell’s insights are a singular, prescient prism through which to understand both the Middle East and the all-male inner sanctum of British colonial power. Directors Oelbaum and Krayenbühl weave together a rich tapestry of fascinating archive alongside Bell’s writings, letters to her parents, and testimony from peers including TE Lawrence and Vita Sackville-West. Though writing a century ago, the acute contemporary relevance of Bell’s words is astonishing – at times even chilling. (LFF brochure)
Official Selection BFI London Film Festival 2016 - Journey Strand


Type of film
Running Time
95 mins
Sabine Krayenbühl, Zeva Oelbaum
Zeva Oelbaum
Mia Bays, Christian Popp, Fabrice Esteve
Executive Producer
Tilda Swinton, Thelma Schoonmaker
Sabine Krayenbühl
Director of Photography
Gary Clarke, Petr Hlinomaz
Sound Editor: Margaret Crimsons
Principal Cast
With the voices of: Tilda Swinton, Rose Leslie, Pip Torrens; Additional Cast: Andrew Havill, Rachel Stirling

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Last updated 23rd October 2016

Production Company

UK, US, France coproduction

Letters from Baghdad Ltd
Sabine Krayenbühl


c/o Letters from Baghdad Ltd
Sabine Krayenbühl