Special screening of acclaimed documentary
“Letters from Baghdad”
Followed by Q&A with
Moderator MSNBC anchor Alex Witt,
award winning filmmakers Sabine Krayenbühl & Zeva Oelbaum
and journalist Mohamad Bazzi,
“Letters from Baghdad” is the story of a true original—Gertrude Bell—who was sometimes called the “female” Lawrence of Arabia. Bell shaped the modern Middle East after World War I in ways that still reverberate today.
The documentary tells the dramatic story of this British spy, explorer and political powerhouse. Using never-seen-before footage of the region, the film chronicles Bell’s extraordinary journey into both the uncharted Arabian desert and the inner sanctum of British male colonial power. She was arguably the most powerful woman in the British Empire in her day, The film was narrated and executive produced by Academy award winning actor Tilda Swinton.
About “Letters from Baghdad”
Letters from Baghdad is the story of a true original—Gertrude Bell—sometimes called the “female” Lawrence of Arabia.
Voiced and executive produced by Academy award winning actor Tilda Swinton, the documentary tells the dramatic story of this British spy, explorer and political powerhouse. Bell traveled widely in Arabia before being recruited by British military intelligence to help draw the borders of Iraq after WWI.
Using never-seen-before footage of the region, the film chronicles Bell’s extraordinary journey into both the uncharted Arabian desert and the inner sanctum of British male colonial power.
With unique access to documents from the Iraq National Library and Archive and Gertrude Bell’s own 1600 letters, the story is told entirely in the words of the players of the day, excerpted verbatim from intimate letters, private diaries and secret communiqués. It is a unique look at both a remarkable woman and the tangled history of Iraq. The film takes us into a past that is eerily current.
About the film’s Directors
SABINE KRAYENBÜHL, Director / Editor
Sabine Krayenbühl is an award winning editor with over 20 theatrical documentaries and narrative features to her credit, many of which have premiered at prestigious festivals around the world. Her work includes Oscar and Independent Spirit Award nominated My Architect for which she received an American Cinema Editors (ACE) Eddie Award nomination.
Other credits include Mad Hot Ballroom, one of the top twenty highest grossing documentaries, The Bridge; produced by IFC, Picasso and Braque go to the Movies, produced by Martin Scorsese, Virgin Tales, Ahead of Time, Jennifer Fox’s Emmy nominated My Reincarnation, Salinger on which she consulted and most recently Eric Steel’s Kiss the Water, co-produced by BBC Films. Krayenbühl has a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and is a long-term member of New York Women in Film and Television.
ZEVA OELBAUM, Director / Producer
Zeva Oelbaum is an award winning producer and photographer. She recently produced Ahead of Time, a feature length documentary about centenarian journalist Ruth Gruber which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival before garnering six Best Documentary awards. The film opened theatrically across the U.S. and was broadcast on Showtime Channel. Oelbaum was also executive producer of the feature documentary, Rene and I.
She comes to film from a career as a still photographer and her work has been
extensively published in periodicals such as The New York Times Magazine. Her photographs are in international public collections including the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and The Brooklyn Museum and two monographs of her work have been published by Rizzoli Int’l Publishers. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Brandeis University with a degree in anthropology, and a member of the Producer’s Guild.