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

R  |   |  Drama  |  26 September 2008 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 10,019 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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1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rifat Maroun (as Peter MacDissi)
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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:



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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
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Did You Know?


This film, based on the book Towelhead by Alicia Erian, debuted at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival with the non-controversial title Nothing is Private. However, after consultation with Erian and Warner Brothers, the filmmakers decided to release the movie in the United States and other countries with the same title as the book, obviously an ethnic slur. The title was met with controversy and protests from the Arab-American community. Some complained about the slur itself, others accused Warner Brothers of choosing a buzz-generating controversial title that was misleading since the story centers more on Jasira's sexual behavior than her ethnicity. This and other topics are discussed on the DVD's two panel discussions. See more »


While interviewing the neighbor about the war he says at one occasion "Is that so" twice before he cuts of the tape, later when listening to the tape he only says it one time before the tape continues on to the second part of recording. 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 »


Features Married with Children (1987) See more »


It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
Written by Edmund Hamilton Sears (uncredited) and Richard Storrs Willis (uncredited)
Performed by Johnny Mathis
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Uncomfortable yet darkly funny
2 January 2009 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

The uncomfortable, sick and disturbing elements of this film will either make you cringe or laugh guiltily. I found the dark humor to be very funny, and it reminded me a bit of 'Happiness'. Aaron Eckhart was fantastic in this in what must surely be seen as quite a dangerous career choice. But all the actors were equally as brilliant, notably the lead girl who played Jazeera. This film is a great exploration of how parents and adults mess with their children's heads, as well as brutal and graphic portrayal of an adolescents coming to terms with her sexuality. Excellent performances, great script and an overall brilliant film.

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Message Boards

Recent Posts
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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