Auditorium - DAMSLab > 18:00


Sabine Krayenbühl, Zeva Oelbaum

Conversation with Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum

Hosted by Alina Marazzi


Tuesday 28/06/2016


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Baghdad, 1917. The sound of bagpipes fills the air as the British army marches victorious into Baghdad during WWI. Already, the High Commissioner is insisting, against orders, that one woman be allowed to enter the city, even though the war is still raging. He needs her expertise. Letters From Baghdad is the story of a true original. Gertrude Bell – adventurer, archaeologist, and British spy – has already made a name for herself as an Arabian expert. Fluent in Arabic, she knows more about the Arabs and Arabia than any other English man or woman. It is well-known that she has shared her maps and notes with T.E. Lawrence, who used them in the Arab Revolt which made him famous. In a dramatic break with protocol, Bell assumes her new role as political officer in Baghdad. At the center of two colliding worlds, she helps create the modern state of Iraq.
Using Bell’s own words (voiced by Academy award winning actor Tilda Swinton) Letters From Baghdad is a journey through the stunning, vanished Middle East of a century ago. Superbly edited, never-screened-before footage of Baghdad, Damascus, Cairo, Istanbul, and Teheran, coupled with Bell’s rare panorama photographs, reveal a vibrant tapestry of diverse cultures. Her photographs of Palmyra and other ancient sites poignantly remind us of a world now lost. Bell’s words, and those of her contemporaries, are excerpted from intimate letters, diaries and secret intelligence memos. The viewer is immersed into Bell’s life – her break with the conventions of Edwardian England, her tragic love affairs and her challenges, as a woman, in the inner circle of male colonial power.
The decisions that Bell and her colleagues made continue to echo across our front pages. The Iraq museum, which she founded, is a monument to her passion for the region and its peoples. Although forgotten in most of the world, Bell is remembered, to this day, with enormous respect and affection in Iraq.

Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum

Cast and Credits

F.: Gary Clark, Petr Hlinomaz. M.: Sabine Krayenbühl. Mus.: Paul Cantelon. Int.: Tilda Swinton (voce di Gertrude Bell). Prod.: Between the Rivers Productions, Letters from Baghdad Ltd.. DCP. Bn. e Col.