Red carpet but no cinema as Gaza film festival forced outdoors | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 06, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 06, 2019

Red carpet but no cinema as Gaza film festival forced outdoors

In the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, without a cinema for 30 years, a few hundred people walk the red carpet to a rare film screening -- held on the street.

The opening of the Red Carpet Human Rights Film Festival on Wednesday evening had been expected to take place inside the Amer Cinema, which has been abandoned for three decades.

But it was moved at the last minute in unclear circumstances, with a screen erected in the street outside the cinema, a grey building with the letters peeling off.

The festival’s executive director, Muntaser al-Sabaa, said organisers had been told by the cinema’s owners that they could no longer use it as a venue.

“Suddenly they told us: ‘We are sorry but the situation is dangerous’. They said: ‘We are afraid’.

“What happened is incomprehensible. We don’t know who told this partner to block the permit to open the cinema.”

The organisers said that they had obtained the necessary permits to host the festival in the cinema.

The Gaza Strip is run by Islamist movement Hamas, which enforces rules based on a strict conservative interpretation of Islam.

Since seizing control in 2007 they have prevented events they consider immoral. The interior ministry in Gaza did not respond to a request for comment.

The week-long festival was scheduled to show 45 documentaries and is part-funded by the Palestinian Authority, based in the West Bank and dominated by the rival Fatah movement of president Mahmud Abbas.

“We chose Amer cinema for its strong symbolism and to send a message that cinema buildings still exist in Gaza and people have the right to enjoy shows,” Sabaa said.

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