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Palestinians enjoy first movie nights in two decades

Reporter: Noor Hara'zeen 丨 CCTV.com

03-31-2016 16:04 BJT

After 20 years sitting in the dark, the projectors are up and running again for Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. Locally produced films, as well as Hollywood blockbusters, are now available.

About 200 Palestinians took their seats Thursday afternoon for 'The Revenant'. This screening at the Red Crescent Hall in western Gaza city was their first movie night in two decades.

Alaa al-Masri, 21, a university student from Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, travelled about 30 kilometers to enjoy this night at the flicks.

"There were cinemas in the Gaza Strip a long ago. It is an opportunity for us to exchange cultures of other societies, cultures spread via movies and art in general. Me and my friends are very enthusiastic to see this movie and discover what a movie screening at the cinema would be like," said Alaa Al-Masri, a student.

The Gaza Cinema Program was launched in the Strip earlier this year with the aim of restoring the spirit of cinema in the coastal enclave. Halls suitable for film screenings in the bombed-out Strip are limited.

However, the organizers of the event managed to create a cinematic atmosphere at the hall despite its modest equipment, including the lights, the projector, and the seats that rise in steps. The tickets were sold at just $2.50 each, reflecting the straitened circumstances of residents.

"The Gaza Cinema Program was launched this year. We plan for a movie screening once a week in this hall. Five Palestinian movies were screened here. The audience were very enthusiastic, and the turnout was high,"

"We also displayed a foreign animation movie. We are trying to find a bigger place for a larger audience; we are also trying to display movies which match our conservative society and traditions," said coordinator Hussam Salem. 

There were about six film houses in the coastal territory before the first Intifada. In 1987, extremist Islamists torched all cinema houses in the Strip. The Palestinian Authority repaired them after the Oslo Accords in 1993, but they were set on fire in 1996 during heightened internal political tension.

This revival of the cinema house in the Gaza Strip meets with the approval of the Hamas movement, perhaps setting the stage for further cultural exchange.

In a dark time of siege, economic oppression, and poverty, the projectors are now bringing light.

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