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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.

"Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum's elegant mix of voiceover, archive footage and talking heads lets "the female Lawrence of Arabia" largely speak for herself, illuminating the pivotal role she played in shaping today's Middle East."

Neil Smith, Total Film

"In an age of a rebooted "Wonder Woman," Bell is the real thing, intrepid, fierce and smart."

Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times

"It provides a sturdy, often exhilarating bridge between the present and a past that not only isn't distant, but isn't even really past."

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

Movie Info

DIRECTED BY Zeva Oelbaum, Sabine Krayenbühl
95 MINUTES

CINEMA ADMISSION:

REGULAR ADMISSION: $11
REAL ART WAYS MEMBERS: $5
SENIOR & STUDENT MEMBERS: $4.50
SENIORS (65+): $7
FULL-TIME STUDENTS (WITH ID): $7

REAL ART WAYS' FACILITIES ARE WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE. ASSISTED LISTENING DEVICES ARE AVAILABLE AT THE CAFÉ.