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Private (2004)

Cast: Mohammad Bakri, Mohammad Bakri, Lior Miller, more...
Director: Saverio Costanzo, Saverio Costanzo
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Studio: Arab Film Distribution
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Italy, Middle East
Running Time: 93 min.
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Italian filmmaker Saverio Costanzo based his feature debut, Private, on a true story of a Palestinian family whose home was taken over by a platoon of Israeli soldiers. In the film, the family lives in between a Palestinian village and an Israeli settlement, making their home a strategic point for the Israelis. Mohammad (well-known Palestinian actor Mohammad Bakri, who also directed the documentary Jenin, Jenin), the schoolteacher father, refuses to let his family abandon their home, despite the protestations of his frightened wife, Samia (Areen Omari). While the younger children seem traumatized by the invasion, eldest daughter Mariam (Hend Ayoub) can barely control her rage toward the Israelis, and is disgusted by her father's seeming passivity. The Israeli commander, Ofer (Israeli television actor Lior Miller), locks the family in their living room each night, and warns them that the second floor is off-limits, but Mariam sneaks upstairs, and is surprised at what she finds as she spies on the soldiers while hiding inside a wardrobe. The eldest son, Yusef (Amir Hasayen), is also angry, though he doesn't say much. But he's determined to make sure that the soldiers don't tear down the family's greenhouse again. Private won the Golden Leopard at the 2004 Locarno Film Festival, and was selected by the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center for inclusion in the 2005 edition of New Directors/New Films. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Reserving Judgment, Observing All by talltale July 4, 2006 - 8:49 AM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
Talk about irony: how bizarre that one of the best pieces of cinema to deal with the Israeli/Palestine conflict arrives via an Italian filmmaker whose first full-length narrative this is. With his surprising, thoughtful and very well-calibrated PRIVATE, Saverio Costanzo creates a movie that works equally well as metaphor and reality. A family living near the border has its home occupied by Israeli military and is forced to live only in the downstairs portion of the structure. Normally, the family would have already fled the area, but the father insists on staying--to the dismay of his wife and five children.

Each character--even the Israelis, of whom we see far less--develops individually as much as possible under these tightly restrained circumstances, which helps the film's humane view resonate. That it is more pro-Palestine than Israel is unavoidable, given the location and story, yet it is no broadside against the occupiers. In just 90 minutes, it includes a genuine look at terrorism, undue force, and a host of understandable attitudes toward everything from education and religion to violence and art. Given its tiny budget and very homemade look, that it works so well seems a small miracle in the annals of moviemaking.

"Private" was Italy's submission to last year's Academy Award as Best Foreign Film but was rejected because the languages spoken are, as they must be, Hebrew, Arabic and English. Had it been accepted, I suspect it might have won: Provocative yet compassionate toward all, it's that good. I hope members who may think they've already shut their mind's door on any further information from this part of the world might leave that door open just a crack--and take a chance on this unsuual movie.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.50)
4 Votes
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