The first feature-length docu made by Westerners in the Gulf state of Qatar, “Linda & Ali” gets up close and very personal with an American-born woman and her Qatari husband. Shooting over the course of three eventful years, Belgian documaker Lut Vandekeybus has fashioned a revealing look at mixed marriage inside a highly insular society. Further fest travels and quality broadcast sales should follow.
The immensely likeable focus is Linda al-Saigel, a convert to the Shiite Muslim faith of husband Ali. Twenty years on, her marriage is being tested by issues that will soon affect their oldest children and which touch on the American Catholic nerves of her upbringing. With amazing candor, she openly discusses polygamy, marriage between cousins and the long-term effects of living in a society in which the worlds of men and women are strictly divided. Careful not to cast Ali in an unflattering light, Vandekeybus brings him forward as a sensitive man tackling his own set of cross-cultural issues. Nimble lensing inside the al-Saigel house doesn’t miss a thing. Rest of tech work is pro.