Saudi girl stars in gritty Hollywood movie

Shows sexual molestation of Arab-American teen


A controversial Hollywood film about the rude sexual awakening of a young Arab-American girl is set to be released this summer, according to recent press reports.

Twenty-year-old Saudi-American actress, Summer Bishil, plays the lead role in Towelhead, a film about a teenage girl who comes of age in Texas during the 1991 Gulf war.

The movie is based on a novel by Alicia Erian and stars big names such as Aaron Eckhart and Toni Collette.

Bishil is the daughter of Saudi father of Indian descent and an American mother, Bahrain's Gulf Daily News reported.

She was born in California, but moved to Bahrain at the age of four and lived there for 10 years, appearing in several drama productions of the British School in Manama, the paper said.

The budding Hollywood A-lister, who has even been tipped for an Oscar for her daring role, now lives with her mother and siblings in California.

Bishil made a name for herself in U.S. tween-friendly hits Hannah Montana and Josh and Drake. She was recently chosen by Variety magazine as one of the 10 upcoming actresses to watch out for.

Towelhead, set to hit U.S. screens on Aug. 15, is the directing debut of Oscar-winning screenwriter Alan Ball, who wrote the script of "American Beauty" and created HBO's "Six Feet Under."

Bishil stars as Jasira, a 13-year-old Arab-American who is sent to live with her conservative and abusive father in Texas. Controversy has erupted over the film, particularly for its unsettling scenes in which Jasira is sexually molested by her neighbor, a married man and father played by Aaron Eckhart.

But the scenes are all filmed above the shoulder and focus on facial expressions, rather than the acts themselves, movie reviews said.

The movie also makes telling observations about how little things have changed in the past two decades by showing TV news coverage of America's first Iraq invasion in the background of the storyline.

The movie, originally titled 'Nothing Is Private' was acquired by Warner Independent and Netflix's Red Envelope Entertainment at last year's Toronto International Film Festival. It is set to be one of summer's sleeper hits in the U.S.

There is no word yet on when it will be released in the Middle East.

Bishil has also finished filming her second major Hollywood flick, Crossing Over, in which she appears opposite big names including Harrison Ford, Sean Penn, Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd.

(Compiled and edited by Ayesha Bhatty).