Cinema returns to Nablus, Palestine

A ticket for the movies in Nablus (image from ALARAB Online)

A ticket for the movies in Nablus (image from ALARAB Online)

The first new cinema to open in Palestine since the closures during the intifada in 1987 has been screening films in Nablus since the end of June. It is offering commercial releases from Egypt and Hollywood arranged via a distributor in Lebanon. The Cinema City screen has only 174 seats for a city of 200,000 people but its opening is symbolic as well as offering a new entertainment option for young people who have never been to the cinema before. Not everyone is in favour of the virtual freedom offered by a cinema visit (i.e. rather than the real freedom that could be achieved if the Israeli occupation of the West Bank was lifted). But I think that this must be progress of a kind. (For more on this story see ALARAB Online and the Guardian). Before 1987 Nablus had four cinemas.

Cinema Dunia in Ramallah

Cinema Dunia in Ramallah

I took this photo in 1997. The cinema was closed in 1984 – information I retrieved from a marvellous account of visiting the cinema on the wonderfully named ‘Electronic Intifada‘. (Another reference suggests that the cinema was built in 1945, and that it was demolished later in 1997). Electronic Intifada also provided the name of the cinema shown below, which was still operating in 1997.

Cinema Walid, Ramallah

Cinema Walid, Ramallah

This cinema showed cheap US action movies (or possibly cheap French action movies). The poster on Electronic Intifada reports that in the 1970s some cinemas like this moved into soft porn since they couldn’t get the foreign films with Arabic subtitles (or indeed the Egyptian films) because of the occupation by Israel. The cinema may still be operating – does anyone know?

The article on remembering visits to Cinema Dunia mentioned above seems to have garnered an enormous response from older Palestinians and is mentioned on several other websites. I also found this terrific image of a Palestinian cinema from 1937 and another article on the three cinemas of Ramallah before the Intifada.

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4 comments

  1. OMAR AHMED

    Excellent post. That really is a terrific image – nice Art Deco. 174 seats for 200,000 people; that’s a profoundly despiriting ratio but good news nevertheless that a new cinema has opened. Cinema can be instrumental in places like Palestine especially for the disaffected youth.

  2. Nuri Nuri

    UPDATE: Cinema Dunia has been demolished and although talk was to preserve the entryway and use it in it’s replacement, last I saw it was still a parking lot.

    As for Cinema Al-Walid, it was sold a year or so ago and plans are for it to either be demolished or renovated to be made into stores, but not a cinema.

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