Film lovers in Gaza were able to watch a movie in a cinema for the first time in 30-years at a screening of the premier of a film about the treatment of Palestinian prisoners.

Gaza City’s Samer Cinema has been closed since the 1960s, but this weekend the building played host to around 300 movie-goers, along with a gaggle of press.

Men and women piled into the building to watch Ten Years, a feature-length film about Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.

Actors who took part in the film were in attendance, with one – Nermin Ziara – telling the Agence France Presse (AFP) news agency he was glad the cinema had opened. 

“We as Palestinians need to have a large space for art,” he said. “Society needs to develop through films and documentaries.”

Audience member Jawdat abu Ramadan told a reporter it is time for a permanent cinema to open in Gaza.

“We need to live like humans, with cinemas, public spaces and parks.”

Around two million people currently live under an Israeli blockade in Gaza. Other cinemas stayed open longer than the Samer Cinema, only to shutter in the late 1980s.

Attempts to reopen cinemas in 1995 were met with grenade attacks by radical Islamists.

Inside Gaza, Hamas currently enforces conservative views, with BBC previously reporting Hamas authorities must pre-approve all films before they’re screened, even privately.

Despite the lack of cinemas, films have occasionally been shown outdoors or privately in rented halls over the past few years.

Organiser Ghada Salmi told AFP the Ten Years screening was “symbolic” of ongoing efforts “to bring back the idea of cinema to Gaza.”



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