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Arts & Culture

Letters From Baghdad

Gertrude Bell on camel between W. Churchill and T.E. Lawrence. Photographed at the Cairo Conference in 1921.
Courtesy of Gertrude Bell Archive, Newcastle University
Gertrude Bell on camel between W. Churchill and T.E. Lawrence. Photographed at the Cairo Conference in 1921.

Airs Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

"Letters From Baghdad" is the story of a true original - Gertrude Bell - sometimes called the female "Lawrence of Arabia."

More influential and famous in her day than her colleague Lawrence, Bell was an explorer, spy, archaeologist and diplomat who helped shape the Middle East after World War I and established the Iraq Museum, infamously ransacked in 2003.

Advisor to Winston Churchill and outspoken critic of colonial policies in Iraq, Bell was considered the most powerful woman in the British Empire.

Voiced and executive produced by Academy award winning Tilda Swinton, the film uses stunning, never-seen-before footage of the region to immerse the viewer in Bell's world.

The story is told entirely in the words of Bell and her contemporaries, excerpted from letters, private diaries, and official documents.

"Letters From Baghdad" chronicles Bell's extraordinary journey into both the uncharted Arabian desert and the inner sanctum of British Colonial power.

The film takes us into a past that is eerily current.

Why has Bell been written out of the history she helped make?

Credits:

Produced by Between the Rivers Productions. Director / Editor is Sabine Krayenbühl. Director / Producer is Zeva Oelbaum. Co-Producer, London: Nikki Parrot. Co-Producers, Paris: Christian Popp and Fabrice Estève – YUZU Productions. Executive Producers are Thelma Schoonmaker, Denise Benmosche and Elizabeth Chandler. Consulting Producers: Anthos Media LLC, founded by Dr. Carla Solomon and Andrea Miller and Margot Steinberg. Advisor: Kevin Brownlow. Archival Producer: Judy Aley.