Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, June 2:
LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD
Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbühl
DOC NYC, London, Haifa, IDFA, Cleveland, Montclair
The story of Gertrude Bell, a British adventurer, spy, and diplomat known as “the female Lawrence of Arabia.”
A contemporary of the famed TE Lawrence, Bell is sadly far less known, yet she played a pivotal role in Western understanding of and involvement in the modern Middle East, particularly in the founding of Iraq after World War I. Oelbaum and Krayenbühl take an unorthodox approach in telling the iconoclast’s story, constraining their history to correspondence and diaries – Bell’s read by Tilda Swinton, while friends and associates’ words are recited on camera by actors in faux period talking heads. More conventional yet well-used and impactful is a wealth of fascinating archival footage of the Middle East, much of it beautifully tinted. Bell emerges as a fearless, influential figure – one ahead of her time, but whose dealings in the region offer a surprisingly modern resonance.