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
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 »
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]
this year, your gonna shut them up. Only, probably you shouldn't tell your mom about this.
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A "coming of age" story within a culturally diverse America
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.
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