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Reopening of a cinema in Gaza for an evening, a first in 30 years

Ⓒ AFP – MAHMUD HAMS – | Palestinians return to the big screen in Gaza with the reopening of an evening of the Samer cinema on August 26, 2017

Several hundred people have returned Saturday night with the magic of the big screen in Gaza, for the first time in more than 30 years, with the reopening, for one evening, of the cinema Samer.

The cinema, built in 1944 and closed in the 1960s, held a special screening of a film about Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

Some 300 people, both men and women, attended the session.

“We need to live like human beings, with cinemas, public spaces, parks,” said Jawdat Abu Ramadan, one of the spectators.

There is currently no open cinema in the Palestinian enclave, in the hands of the Hamas Islamist movement and subjected for 10 years to a land, air and maritime blockade of Israel.

The only performance on Saturday is “symbolic” of the broader efforts to “revive the idea of ​​cinema in Gaza,” Ghada Salmi, one of the organizers, told AFP.

Ⓒ AFP – MAHMUD HAMS – | Final preparations for the reopening of the Samer cinema in Gaza, on the Palestinian Territories, August 26, 2017

Other cinemas in the Gaza Strip were closed in turn in the 1980s, particularly during the first intifada, the Palestinian uprising.

Islamists were also suspected of setting fire to one of the cinemas in 1987.

“The other cinemas were afraid to broadcast films,” said Salmi.

Ironically, according to the French historian Jean-Pierre Filiu, the Gazan branch of the Muslim Brotherhood – which originated in Hamas – held its first conference at the Samer cinema in 1946.

The film screened Saturday night, “Ten Years”, tells the story of Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails.

The projection was approved by Hamas.

“I do not think there is a problem with Hamas to open a cinema, as it is an artistic place,” said Nermine Ziara, who plays in the film.

Ⓒ AFP – MAHMUD HAMS – | A Palestinian security guard in front of the Samer cinema in Gaza, August 26, 2017

“We, as Palestinians, need a great space for art,” she told AFP.

In May, a rare film festival dealing with human rights issues was held in the open air at the port of Gaza City.

The Gaza Strip, which experienced three wars with Israel between 2008 and 2014 and where at least two thirds of the population is dependent on international assistance, is facing a serious humanitarian and economic crisis.

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