FIRST AIRED: April 5, 2018

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Transcript

00:00:01
>> We believe she's a British spy.>> Iraq through the eyes of the British female explorer and spy who helped shape it. Letters from Baghdad had its first screening in Iraq's capital this week and looks back at the life of one on history's influential women, Gertrude Bell. The documentary's director, Sabine Krayenbuhl, hopes it will draw parallels on Iraq's current challenges as it heals from a war with Islamic State.
00:00:21
And seeks to reconcile its Shi'ite majority with its Sunni and Kurdish fuctions.>> Even like just today, we drove through the streets and we were looking at some of the older parts and seeing how some of these houses are falling apart. And I think watching this footage gives you an enthusiasm to run to restore and want to protect the past.
00:00:45
>> We rushed into this business with our usual disregard for a comprehensive political scheme.>> The film's script is taken entirely from Bell's letters and documents when she worked on an official for the British administration as the country was being pulled together into a new state a century ago.
00:01:01
She's often described as the Queen of the Desert, having traveled alone through the Middle East in the early 1900s. It was her knowledge of the region and mastery of eight languages that first caught the attention of British intelligence, who placed her in Egypt during the First World War.
00:01:15
She was later the only woman appointed by Winston Churchill to help draw up the boundaries of modern day Iraq, and selected King Faisal as its first leader. Released originally in 2016, the Iraqi government has brought the film to the country for the first time to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Bell's birth.
00:01:31
She died shortly before her 58th birthday in 1926. Her tomb remains in Baghdad.