Warners stands by its title

'Towelhead' moniker stays despite pressure

An Islamic civil rights and advocacy group has asked Warner Bros. to change the title of its upcoming film "Towelhead," saying "the word is commonly used in a derogatory manner against people of the Muslim faith or Arab origin."

The studio said it plans to stand by the filmmakers, who chose the title to point out racial stereotypes, though it added, "We apologize for any offense that is caused by the title."

"Towelhead," directed by Alan Ball and adapted for the screen by Alicia Erian from her novel of the same name, looks at the life of a 13-year-old Lebanese-American girl in the early '90s. A Warner Independent specialty title now being handled by Warners, it is scheduled to open Sept. 12 in limited release in New York and Los Angeles.

The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Monday that since the moniker is a "racial and religious slur," Warners should consider calling the film "Nothing Is Private," the title under which it debuted at last year's Toronto International Film Festival.

Erian, who is Arab-American, said that though the title is an ethnic slur, she "selected it to highlight one of the novel's major themes: racism."

While she called CAIR's work "admirable," she said that "the solution … is not to force the artist to alter her work but instead to use the occasion of that work as an entry point for meaningful debate and discussion."

Ball said he felt it was important to retain the title of Erian's novel because "she so effectively dramatizes the pain inflicted by such language, something many people of nonminority descent never have to face." (partialdiff)
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