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Private

Director: Saverio Costanzo

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


There have been very few films that have attempted to bring the reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into sharp focus. Private, directed by the Italian Saverio Costanzo, ventures into the minefield of this conflict in an attempt to convey one particular part of the struggle. It does so admirably, although some would say not impartially.
Costanzo has chosen to look at the war through the eyes of one Palestinian household—a well-educated, middle-class family. The family members are totally divided about what they should or should not do. Understandably worried about the safety of her sons and daughters, mother Samiah (Areen Omari) wants to leave. Her husband, Mohammad (Mohammad Bakri), feels quite differently, insisting that they stay in their house and deal with the situation as it develops. Soon their domestic arguments give way to a harsher reality when a group of Israeli soldiers enters the home unannounced and occupies it as an observation post, effectively turning its owners into prisoners.
Private is uncompromising in its realistic depiction of its chosen subject. Costanzo chillingly portrays the quotidian tensions that underlie this struggle, reducing it to something we can all relate to: a family, a house and its invasion by strangers.
As the two parties get to know each other and come to an uneasy equilibrium, we begin to hope that some kind of understanding will follow. However, Costanzo provides no easy out. The absence of simple solutions makes Private completely heartbreaking.—

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