Screen/Society--Documenting the Middle East--"Letters from Baghdad"
-- Introduced by Nancy Kalow (Documentary Studies); discussion to follow!
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.
--Winner – Audience Award – Beirut International Film Festival!
--Official Selection – IDFA, DocNYC, BFI London Film Festival, HAIFA Film Festival!
Cost: Free and open to the public
Sponsors: The Duke University Middle East Studies Center (DUMESC), AMES Presents, Duke FOCUS Program, and the Program in the Arts of the Moving Image (AMI).