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Private

Director: Saverio Costanzo

Italy| 2004. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby stereo. 94 min.


This riveting and harrowing true story about the Israel-Palestine issue is not only a compelling and gripping drama, but also dares to take a balanced look at the conflict through the eyes of the people in the middle of it. Mohammad and Samia live with their five children between an Arab town and a Jewish settlement. They’re middle-class, well-educated people whose lives are disrupted by the horrific midnight invasion of four Israeli soldiers, who occupy the upper floors of their house. As the days pass, family members experience a variety of responses—frustration, resignation, confusion, rage—while Mohammad maintains his stubborn refusal to leave his home. Clearly, the situation depicted in the film can be seen as a metaphor for the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet Private is also an intimate drama about these specific people, and one that’s both emotionally intense and provocatively insightful. Director and co-writer Saverio Costanzo’s handheld camera maintains a strongly personal point of view, forcing us to suffer the invasive indignities along with the family. But the film goes a huge step further when it adds the Israeli perspective in a series of outrageously tense scenes in which the elder daughter spies on the soldiers, discovering their humanity in the process. Humanising the ‘enemy’ forces us to understand what is really going on—to sympathise with both sides of the conflict and yearn for the peaceful solution that keeps presenting itself, only to be destroyed by another apparently random, but hardly senseless, act of violence.

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