Palestine: Gaza gets its first proper cinema in three decades


Several hundred Gazans will be able to go to the cinema on Saturday for the first time in more than 30 years, albeit for one night only.

The Samer Cinema in Gaza City, the oldest in the strip but closed for decades, will host a special screening of a film about Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

The Islamist Hamas has ruled Gaza for 10 years and there are currently no functioning cinemas in the Palestinian territory where two million people live in cramped conditions under an Israeli blockade.

Ghada Salmi, an organiser, told AFP the one-night showing was “symbolic” of wider efforts “to bring back the idea of cinema to Gaza”.

The movie theatre was built in 1944 but shut in the 1960s.

The enclave’s remaining cinemas closed in the late 1980s during the first Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

There was a fire at one cinema in 1987 which was widely thought to have been the work of Islamists who consider cinema ungodly.

“The rest of the cinemas were scared to show films after that,” Salmi said.

Ironically, according to French historian Jean-Pierre Filiu’s 2012 history of Gaza, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Gaza branch — from which Hamas sprang — held its founding conference at the Samer on the Islamic new year in 1946.

Saturday’s film, “10 Years”, tells the story of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Salmi said it does not focus on the wider politics, instead telling a human story. The showing has the approval of Hamas.

Salmi said the screening, at which men and women are not expected to be separated, is a one-off, but she was hopeful it could lead to something wider in the future.

In May, a rare festival showcased films focusing on human rights issues. Those screenings took place outdoors at Gaza City’s port. Other films have occasionally been shown in rented halls.

Gaza is still recovering from the last of three wars with Israel in 2014, when more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed and much of the strip was devastated. Seventy-four people died on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers.

Source: Hindustan Times


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