This Week’s Recommendation: Letters From Baghdad

7 May 2021

This Week’s Recommendation:  Letters From Baghdad

Title: Letters From Baghdad

UK 2016

95 mins, language: English

Directed by Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum

Letters From Baghdad was the 775th film screened by RFS on 28th November 2017. It was the fifth equal ranked film of Season 55  with an audience rating of 89%.

As a young woman, Gertrude Lowthian Bell, sometimes called the "female Lawrence of Arabia", travelled extensively throughout the Middle East from Palestine to Syria to Iraq (then Mesopotamia), producing maps and scholarly works and becoming fluent in Arabic and Persian. Her archaeological and writing talents were eventually recognised by British Military Intelligence. She became a diplomat and spy, wielding significant political power in British Imperial policy across the Middle East. Bell helped draw the borders of Iraq after WWI, establishing the modern state of Iraq and reshaping the modern Middle East in ways that still reverberate today. The only woman to do so, Bell worked closely with tribal Arabs to help soldiers move across the desert during World War

Voiced and executive produced by Tilda Swinton, the film chronicles Bell's journey into the uncharted Arabian desert and all-male halls of colonial power with never-seen-before archival footage of the region shot a century ago, and reconstructions of testimony from key peers including T. E. Lawrence and Vita Sackville-

West. Openly critical of colonialism, Bell offered a counterpoint to typical British all-male power; and her views on the future of the Middle East takes us into a past that is eerily current and prophetic.

Full film notes available in the Twickenham & Richmond Tribune -
Letters From Baghdad can be streamed from BFI Player and the discs are available from Amazon and other retailers.

Presented by Richmond Film Society

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