A film festival that gives Gazans a rare taste for films

GAZA, Oct 17 (Reuters) – Film buffs in the Gaza Strip, who for decades have been denied cinema due to the destruction of cinemas during bouts of unrest in the Strip, have a rare chance to see a slate of films. Movies on the big screen.

Cinema once flourished in Gaza, with audiences flocking to watch Arab, Western and Asian films, but cinemas were set ablaze in the first intifada in 1987 and then burned again in 1996 during another wave of internal violence.

Since then, Gazans have had to rely on television and internet streaming services, and the opportunity to watch movies on the big screen has been a rare treat for people living under a border blockade imposed by neighboring Israel and Egypt.

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The Red Carpet Human Rights Film Festival, which opened Thursday, is showing about 40 films in a recently renovated cultural center, about half dealing with the decades-old conflict with Israel and the rest dealing with human rights issues around the world.

While Gazans have been able to go to movie screenings that are held from time to time in theaters and elsewhere, such a full bill of films is a rare pleasure.

Festival executive director Muntaser al-Sabaa said he was proud of the festival in Gaza, but hoped cinemas would open again.

“We have cinemas in Gaza that are closed, open them,” he said.

About 300 films from 60 countries were submitted before the organizers made their selection, which included films by four young local filmmakers who had the rare opportunity to present their work to local audiences.

All films have to be reviewed before being shown by the local authorities in Gaza, which has been controlled by Hamas since 2007.

Among the films shown was “Eleven Days in May”, co-directed by Gaza director Mohammed al-Sawaf and British director Michael Winterbottom, which tells the story of 66 children killed in the 11-day war between Israel and Gaza militants in May 2021.

“We focused on their beautiful memories, jokes and dreams,” Al-Sawaf said. Cinema is a civilized and important way to convey the voice of the children and people of Gaza to the world.

He said the film was narrated by Kate Winslet, a Hollywood actress who starred in the famous movie Titanic and the music of Max Richter.

But for some, the festival will be all about the fun of going to the movies and watching a movie with loved ones.

“Outside Gaza, I was standing in line and buying a ticket. I hope to have the same experience here in the Gaza Strip and be able to take my little family and watch a movie in the cinema together,” Amira Hamdan said. There with her husband.

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Written by Nidal Mughrabi. Editing by Raisa Ksowski

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Nidal Al-Mughrabi

Thomson Reuters

A prominent reporter with nearly 25 years of experience covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict including several wars and the signing of the first historic peace agreement between the two sides.

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