After 25 years in shuttered silence, the Al Quds cinema has reopened its doors in East Jerusalem. And it’s opening schedule was no blockbuster wasteland. Under the banner of “Freedom Films Week”, the revamped theater screened films on such topical and urgent issues as sexual harassment, the Arab uprising, Algerian refugees and daily life in East Jerusalem. Titles included Cairo 678 (Mohamed Diab, 2012), Harragas (Merzak Alouache, 2009), and The Quarter of Scarecrows (Hassan-Ali Mahmoud, 2010) (for a complete listing see schedule in This Week in Palestine).
Al Quds first opened in the 1950s, but was closed down by Israeli authorities during the first Intifadah in 1987. Most of the original reels and equipment were destroyed through neglect and exposure to elements. In its new location in the Youbous Cultural Centre, a non-profit facility encouraging performing arts and cultural revival in Palestine, Al Quds will offer affordable cinema to locals who can rarely afford the $10 dollar admission charged by theaters in West Jerusalem.
Over the past decade, many community organizations serving East Jerusalem Palestinians have been closed by Israeli authorities. In an interview with IPS News Service, Ziad al-Hammouri, director of the Jerusalem Centre for Social and Economic Rights, claimed that closing Palestinian cultural organizations is part of an organized effort to resettle East Jerusalem and force Palestinians out.
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