Reel Asian 2023: Our Review of ‘Q’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies by - November 11, 2023
Reel Asian 2023: Our Review of ‘Q’

“Love is very, very dangerous.”

These words seem to have an overriding arch in filmmaker Jude Chehab’s debut feature documentary, Q. They are spoken by her mother, Hiba, who has spent much of her life as a member of the Qubaysiat. Qubaysiat is an all-female, secretive religious order operating clandestinely for decades. Hiba, and her mother too, have a devout devotion to the Anisa (the leader), never questioning her lessons nor motives, even if they are told to pray for 17 hours of the day. They do not question when the Anisa tells them that Hiba is not to go to medical school but is to give her life instead to the order. “Their dreams become your dreams,” Hiba later says.  

Chehab uses Q to try to look behind the curtain of secrecy the generations of women in her family have lived behind to varying effect.  Q is often vague, as the information she gets is vague, so the film sometimes seems a bit adrift.  Even her own family can’t (or won’t?) explain the group despite being part of it. What is evident however is the effect Hiba’s intense love and devotion to the Anisa has had on their family, and her 30 year marriage, creating fissures. This is where the film comes into focus. 

Accompanied by a stunning score from William Ryan Fritch, Q manages to reveal the impact this type of blind faith has on relationships, including the relationship with one’s self. Chehab’s talent is in capturing this in an exceedingly intimate way, her lens most often tight to her subject without ever seeming like it’s an invasion. Chehab uses her close connection and comfort with her family to her advantage here, and it’s clear that this film is made with love. A safe kind of love. 


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Hillary is a Toronto based writer, though her heart often lives in her former home of London, England. She has loved movies for as long as she can remember, though it was seeing Jurassic Park as a kid that really made it a passion. She has been writing about film since 2010 logging plenty of reviews and interviews since then, especially around festival season. She has previously covered the London Film Festival, TIFF (where she can often be found frantically running between venues) and most recently Sundance (from her couch). She is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics. When she’s not watching films or writing about them, she can be found at her day job as a veterinarian. Critic and vet is an odd combination, but it sure is a great conversation starter at an interview or festival!
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