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Towelhead (2007)

Nothing Is Private (original title)
2:11 | Trailer

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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)
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
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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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
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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 »


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


Ciel de Paris
Written by Pierre Dudan
Performed by Jean Sablon
Courtesy of DRG Records Incorporation
Under license from DRG Special Markets
By arrangement with DRG International Group
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A "coming of age" story within a culturally diverse America
14 September 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Alan Ball's TOWELHEAD is as dark, and biting as American BEAUTY, but with a different slant as a young girl begins to experience the reality of life growing up in the suburbs of America. The cast is superb, the young actor, Summer Bishil, is tremendous in her role, and the film and story resonate with a young girl wanting to be accepted for who she is, but instead has to face incidents which would impale another young girl.

TOWELHEAD deals with prejudice, a multicultural American society that faces Iraq, and other issues, along with the sexuality of young men and women. This film has been lambasted for the sexual themes which it addresses, but in fact is a real picture into what youth must deal with in America today. The writing is crisp, brilliant and the characters and cast bring alive the story with incredible energy. Living in Southern California, I see TOWELHEAD as an important film for an audience to see and discuss for their children and families. Once again, Alan Ball has delivered a brilliant and thought provoking, and very controversial film of substance and value.

40 of 50 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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