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Friday, September 22, 2023

Cinema’s Return to Gaza Beachfront: A Nostalgic Experience for Palestinians

UncategorizedCinema's Return to Gaza Beachfront: A Nostalgic Experience for Palestinians

In the coastal strip of Gaza, where the horizon meets the Mediterranean, a unique cinematic experience has been rekindling memories and bringing joy to the locals. Amidst the sounds of waves crashing and children’s laughter, an open-air cinema is casting its spell, using car tyres, rocks, and piles of sand as makeshift seating arrangements. For many Palestinians, this seafront movie magic is a heartwarming return to a tradition lost over three decades ago.

The film playlist, which includes animated delights like “Ferdinand,” caters to all age groups. However, the significance of this event runs deeper than mere entertainment. For a large portion of the audience, this marked their inaugural experience of watching a film on a projector since the last surviving cinema in the enclave shut its doors over 30 years ago.

Organized by the cafe “The Sea is Ours”, the motive behind these screenings was twofold. Firstly, it aimed to provide a much-needed escape and moments of joy for the residents. Secondly, the film selection was meticulously curated to reflect and promote cultural and historical topics that align with the values and narratives of the Hamas government, Gaza’s conservative Islamist rulers.

The history of cinema in Gaza is rich and poignant. There was a time when movie theatres dotted the region, drawing crowds eager to immerse themselves in Arab, Western, and Asian cinematic tales. However, the cultural landscape drastically shifted in 1987 during the First Intifada. A wave of unrest and uprisings saw the movie theatres go up in flames. Tragically, a similar fate befell them in 1996 amidst internal strife. The last of these cinemas, though now silent and deserted, has become a sanctuary for bats, a stark reminder of the cultural void left behind.

Over the years, residents of Gaza have occasionally had the opportunity to attend film screenings at various venues, including theatres. Yet, this recent series of screenings, spread out over several weeks and under the vast expanse of the sky, is unparalleled in its nostalgia and magic.

For many, this cinematic experience by the sea isn’t merely about entertainment. It’s a beacon of hope, a testament to resilience, and an ode to the rich cultural heritage of Gaza that many hope to see revived in the coming years.


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