There’s a lot that I don’t know in this world and I’m guessing that sentiment resonates with many of you. The urge to learn, the motivation for knowledge is a force that can sometimes be overbearing. Personally, I’m lacking in understanding of the past; why certain moments in history shaped and defined the world we live in today. After watching Viceroy’s House a month ago, the thirst for historical knowledge was invigorated and it continues with Letters from Baghdad, which is the next Central Docs Club film at Picturehouse Central.

Letters from Baghdad charts the journey of one Gertrude Margaret Lothian Bell, a woman who was never settled with the easy life in Oxford and instead yearned for adventure. An adventure where she bonded with the people of the desert and in certain cases, was held captive both physically (whilst exploring Hail) and in the minds of men. “In the desert, every newcomer is an enemy until you know them to be a friend”, a quote that through Bell’s sprawling travels would be one to define her journey. A somewhat unknown when compared to TE Lawrence, it’s good to finally see Bell’s story transfer to the screen (we’re ignoring Queen of the Desert).

Directors Zeva Oelbaum and Sabine Krayenbuhl piece together a documentary that wants you to believe that it was filmed in the era. From utilising actors (dressed to the nines in the get-up from the time) to capturing original footage painted with a black and white grain brush. It’s another example of documentarians experimenting with techniques to create visuals that wouldn’t have existed during the age they wanted to focus on, just like Tower did to illustrate its story. With Bell’s letters narrated by Tilda Swinton, you’re given a finely tuned insight into the charismatic Bell.

Join us on Monday 24th April at Picturehouse Central for the Central Docs Club presentation of Letters from Baghdad. Remember, we always have a Q&A after the film so stick around and join us for the conversation.