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Linda & Ali
Two Worlds within Four Walls
A film by Lut Vandekeybus
Belgium, 2005, 94 minutes, Color, DVD, Arabic, Subtitled
Order No. W06904
LINDA AND ALI provides a nuanced and intimate look into the life of a traditional Muslim family in Doha, Qatar. But Linda and Ali’s 20-year marriage is far from traditional. Linda was brought up Catholic in Arizona and met Ali – a Shiite Muslim from Qatar – at college in the 1980’s. Shot during the American invasion of Iraq, this poignant film shows how Linda and Ali struggle to surmount their cultural differences while raising their seven children in a lively, loving home.

Unlike many foreign wives, Linda adopted the Shiite Muslim traditions of her husband, and swathed in black, she looks like any other Qatari woman. Within the four walls of their comfortable home, however, Western and Middle Eastern ideals, ethics and attitudes often collide. Linda enrolls her daughters in gymnastics classes, clashing with local morals, but she has yet to convince the girls that a “love marriage” such as hers is preferable to an arranged marriage. Filmmaker Lut Vandekeybus hones in on surprising and candid family discussions about issues such as second wives, religion and Qatari society in general, painting a fascinating portrait of a family living at the complex intersection of gender roles, nationality and religion. For two years, Vandekeybus was given extraordinary access to a culture rarely open to outsiders, and the resulting film offers viewers a unique opportunity to view Muslim culture through Linda’s eyes and counteract the often distorted images of Islamic culture and Muslim people provided by the mainstream media


  • HotDocs Int’l Film Festival Toronto, World Premiere
  • Chicago International Film Festival
  • San Diego Film Festival
  • Tiburon International Film Festival
  • Opendoek Film Festival, Belgium Premiere
  • Northwest Folklife Film Festival
  • Brattleboro Women's Film Festival

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    “Provides useful insights into one Middle Eastern society and culture. …useful, as well, for collections or classes exploring the structures of marriage and family life.”
    Educational Media Reviews Online

    “Surprisingly cheerful…deftly weaves together themes of familial solidarity with hints of an underlying cultural clash…An engaging look at a family whose lives fall outside the experience of most Americans. Recommended.”
    Video Librarian

    “Remarkable… the director shows much intelligence and sensitivity.”
    Le Monde

    “Succeeds in showing the complexity of characters and situations.”

    "Gets up close and very personal with an American-born woman and her Qatari husband…a revealing look at mixed marriage inside a highly insular society."
    Richard Kupiers

    “East collides with West in this lighthearted, typical love story with atypical twists…Respectful and appreciative of both cultures, Linda & Ali openly delivers the couple’s differences without making them seem perverse.”
    Chicago International Film Festival

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