Towelhead (2007)
"Nothing Is Private" (original title)

R  |   |  Drama  |  26 September 2008 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 9,961 users   Metascore: 57/100
Reviews: 61 user | 113 critic | 31 from

A young Arab-American girl struggles with her sexual obsession, a bigoted Army reservist and her strict father during the Gulf War.



(written for the screen by), (novel)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rifat Maroun (as Peter MacDissi)
Gemmenne de la Peña ...
School Photographer
Sales Clerk
Michael McShae ...
Middle School Jerk
D.C. Cody ...
Middle School Jerk


Against the backdrop of the first Gulf War, Jasira Maroun is 13, physically well developed but naïve and unable to say no. As puberty arrives, her mother sends her from Syracuse to Houston to her curt, up-tight, Lebanese-born father. Over the next few months, Jasira must navigate her father's strict indifference, her discovery of sexual pleasure, the casual racism of a neighbor boy and her classmates, the sexual advances of the boy's father, the proffered friendship of a pregnant neighbor, and her attraction to Thomas, an African-American classmate whom her father forbids her to see. Things happen to her, but can she take responsibility and control, or is tragedy inevitable? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

neighbor | boy | girl | gulf war | school | See All (96) »


How Can You Find Yourself if No One Can See You? See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong disturbing sexual content and abuse involving a young teen, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



| | |

Release Date:

26 September 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Towelhead  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$52,823 (USA) (12 September 2008)


$371,446 (USA) (17 October 2008)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Actress Summer Bishil turned 18 before filming started, allowing her to play the 13 year old, sexually overactive Jasira without any restrictions as to what she could do or show in the movie. See more »


Although the movie was set in 1990-91 (as the story starts before the Gulf War and concludes soon after the war ends), the microwave in the father's house looked current, the airport looked really modern, the nudie mags didn't look that old, and most of the clothes throughout the film looked wrong for the era. See more »


[first lines]
Barry: You're beautiful just the way you are, Jasira. Those other girls are just jealous because you're growing up faster than they are. And you're prettier than they are. Listen, don't let it get you down. Stupid names they're calling you. This year - just gimme a second
[wets the razor]
Barry: this year, your gonna shut them up. Only, probably you shouldn't tell your mom about this.
See more »


Featured in HBO First Look: Towelhead (2008) See more »


Orange Crush
Written by Bill Berry (as William Berry), Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe
Performed by R.E.M.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Brilliantly Honest
19 January 2009 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

"Towelhead" is an incredibly honest and sincere movie. It tells its story without pretense, without agenda, and without b.s.

Looking at the IMDb reviews and ratings, it appears that not everyone enjoys this movie. If you are made uncomfortable by the honest portrayal of adolescent sexuality, racism, sexism, bad parenting, sexual assault, and sexual predation, then you will not enjoy this movie.

If you are like myself and my wife, and you feel that dealing with the life of a young woman torn between cultures and divorced parents, objectified by a society that also rejects her, and as confused and eager and scared of her own sexuality as every young teen has ever been, then you feel this is one of the best films of the year.

But not everyone is going to be comfortable with honesty. I found it to be a wonderful breath of fresh air. Others will be made uncomfortable and will then make up reasons to dislike it. I even read a review by someone who somehow thought that the villain of the story, the clear, obvious villain, was the hero.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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One of the most horrifying scenes I've watched fieldsofbarley
if aaron eckhart was my neighbour and tried to do me i totally would. MoonbeamEagle
Melina's husband: How does he know Arabic? erez-yam
What year is this movie supposed to take place in? iliketodissectboys
You may have her leg, but I have the rubber coolatina101
inconsistency in the dialog erez-yam
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