Directed by Saverio Costanzo, starring Hend Ayoub, Mohammad Bakri, Lior Miller, Arin Omary, Marco Alsaying and Tomer Russo.
'Private' is based on the true and current events in the Middle East. It brings you inside an Israeli occupation, when the West Bank home of a Palestinian family is caught in the crossfire.
There's nothing light about this film; it asks tough questions in hard-hitting scenes. Do you get up and leave and become a refugee when your house is taken over? Or, do you stay and silently, patiently and obstinately wait for the soldiers to move on? Is it better to die than live in such a situation?
A well-educated, middle class Palestinian family's home is stormed by Israeli soldiers. Mohammad (Bakri), the father, insists that he and his family will remain in their home, so the soldiers take over the upstairs while the family live downstairs. By day, the family attempt to go about their normal lives, by night they are prisoners locked in their own living room.
Mohammad's wife Samia's (Omary) priority is to keep her children safe, but the feared Mohammad believes that "being a refugee is not being". Mohammad fights with integrity in a desperate bid to hold on to both his home and his family, but he may lose both. His overpowering and stubborn demeanour overrides the wishes of his family, who individually react differently to the occupation.
Miriam (Ayoub), the eldest daughter, spies on the troops from a wardrobe upstairs - humanising the soldiers. Jamal (Alsaying) tries to defend their glasshouse by planting a grenade inside for the soldiers who repeatedly tear it down. Trauma is seen in the eyes of the youngest, Nada, in a hard-hitting scene where she is locked outside one night amidst the gunfire.
The commander of the Israeli takeover, Ofer (Miller), leads his soldiers in the same way that Mohammad does his family. But there is apathy from the rest of the soldiers, who watch soccer on television or play the clarinet inside the Palestinians' home.
In this sense, by taking neither side of the battle, it makes it hard to see an end in sight. The hurler on the ditch approach gives a feeling more of despair than impartiality. But truth often is less structured than fiction. There is no beginning, middle and end, only a continuation of the present situation. There is a lack of hope in 'Private'. Normally a character's struggle is rewarded by a realisation of their dream, or development, or change in situation. Not here. Tension in the Middle East persists and the film remains true to this fact. If there were another ending, it would be entering the realm of fiction.
'Private' deals straightforwardly with the issue at hand. Its agenda is not to entertain, but to portray the Middle East in its raw form and to exhibit the sense of pointlessness. It is unsettling and tense, but not necessarily violent. The documentary style, shot with hand held digital cameras, gives the film a rough edge, a war zone tone, a lurking malevolence.
Filmed in Italy, it is resonant of and relevant to any war-torn region. With over 11m refugees in the world and millions more living in turmoil, 'Private' is a damning story. It grabs hold of the impassable gap between two sides, focusing on the gridlock and different personal struggles that arise. It is emotionally gripping with some moving performances.
An award-winning thriller-drama depicting struggle, in a bid to bring real-life to cinema, 'Private' should be seen.