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

R  |   |  Drama  |  26 September 2008 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 10,014 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)
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:



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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 »


When Jasira is talking to her mother on the payphone when her father has locked her out, there is a "We Card" sticker visible in the convenience store window. The "We Card" tobacco program was not started until 1995, several years after the movie takes place. 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 »


La Javanaise
Written by Serge Gainsbourg
Performed by Serge Gainsbourg
(c) 1962 & 1998 Société Nouvelle des Editions Musicales Tutti
All rights assigned to WB Music Corp. (ASCAP) o/b/o Warner Chappell Music France (SACEM) & Melody Nelson Publishing
Courtesy of Mercury France
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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User Reviews

Jaw Dropping!
29 December 2008 | by (usa) – See all my reviews

This is one odd, disturbing, strange little movie that is as seductive as it is uncomfortable to watch. The ensemble cast is a standout but Summer Bishil absolutely steals this one by delivering an amazingly adult performance of an almost impossible role, and Peter Macdissi, as her father, is also excellent with a heavily nuanced complex character.

I'd also like to point out this movie has more WTF moments than anything I've seen in recent memory.

Another thing I was struck with is just how commonplace, how "normal" the events in this girl's life appear, and that is even more disturbing.

I'd like to close by saying this movie will not be enjoyed by everyone, nor will it be understood by everyone. This is a major piece of film-making and a major piece of storytelling, though, and if you don't mind extremes, definitely give this one a try.

33 of 38 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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