"Behind every movie is a personal story and we find a way to tell it to the world."

Letters from Baghdad

a film by Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum

T. E. Lawrence said she was a “wonderful person – not very much like a woman, you know”. Letters from Baghdad is the story of Gertrude Bell (1868–1926), sometimes referred to as the “female Lawrence of Arabia”. The daughter of a progressive British industrialist who also served as a Liberal Member of Parliament, Bell graduated with first-class honors from Oxford after only two years and became a world-class mountaineer (Gertrudspitze, an Alpine peak in the Bernese Oberland is named after her). Fascinated by Arab culture, she traveled widely in the Middle East, to areas that were still part of the Ottoman Empire at the time. She met and earned the trust of a number of tribal chiefs and supported their drive to achieve independence from Turkish rule. Bell played a decisive part in the founding of the modern state of Iraq and even helped draw its borders, though she soon realized that this new nation was bound to be undermined by its ethnic and religious divisions.


The Swiss filmmaker Sabine Krayenbühl and her American counterpart Zeva Oelbaum bring this remarkable personage to life by drawing on rare archival footage and eye-witness accounts as well as Bell’s extensive correspondence, including her intimate letters, private diaries and secret communiqués, read by Tilda Swinton.

Festivals and Awards
Beirut International Film Festival - Audience Award 2016
IDFA 2016
Doc NYC 2016
BFI London Film Festival 2016


2017 | USA, UK, France| 95min. | Documentary
Dialogue: English, Arabic
Subtitles: English

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Cast
Tilda Swinton, Michael Higgs, Eric Loscheider, Rachael Stirling, Adam Astill

Crew 
Directed by: Sabine Krayenbühl, Zeva Oelbaum
Producer: Zeva Oelbaum 
Executive Producers: Tilda Swinton, Thelma Schoonmaker, Ruedi Gerber
Cinematography: Adam Teichman
Editing: Sabine Krayenbühl
Sound Editing: Margaret Crimmins
Music: Paul Cantelon