Gaza's cinema reopens after years
Gaza's cinema experience set to return after years-long intermission
Nagham Mohanna & Rosie Scammell
The National / June 3, 2022
Film lovers have been able to watch only outdoor screenings since the early 2000s.
Determined to bring the silver screen to Gaza, filmmakers are transforming a neglected theatre into the Palestinian enclave’s only working cinema.
“No cinema exists in Gaza," said filmmaker Abed al-Rahman Hussein. "Not in terms of screenings, nor in terms of the industry either."
After years showing films in the rubble of bomb sites and on Gaza’s streets, he and fellow cinephiles believe they have eventually found a permanent home.
Dusty footprints mark the wooden floor of the disused theatre, which opened in the late 1990s but was abandoned just a few years later.
A torn screen hangs from the ceiling, while cobwebs are gathering on the old Bauer projector.
“Ten cinemas existed [in Gaza] from the 1930s to the 1980s, until there was a revolt on the cinemas,” said Hussein.
“A revolt to change culture, in which anything related to cinema was haram [forbidden in Islam], prohibited, shunned.”
Ten cinemas existed [in Gaza] from the 1930s to the 1980s, until there was a revolt on the cinemas
Abed al-Rahman Hussein, filmmaker
Gaza saw a brief revival of cultural spaces in the 1990s, when the now-empty theatre was opened, before being abandoned in 2006 with the outbreak of fighting between Palestinian factions.
Gaza has since been ruled by Islamist group Hamas, while Israel has imposed a blockade on the territory which prevents the majority of residents from leaving.