The Palestinian Mobile Cinema


By Kifah Zaboun
Palestinian children enjoy the mobile Cinema (Asharq Al-Awsat Photo)

Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat- Palestinian producer Yousef Aldeek, 43, travels with his companions from one region to the next in the Palestinian territories to wherever Palestinians reside, whether in remote countryside areas, neighborhoods or refugee camps.

Armed with their modest equipment and big dreams, they travel around as a moving cinema screening films and spreading joy. With “making happiness” their chief objective, Aldeek and his friends tour the poverty-stricken areas in the Palestinian territories to show movies, predominantly Palestinian but also including Arab and international films.

“The Mobile Cinema,” Aldeek told Asharq Al-Awsat, “targets the poorest segments of society.” He added that the shows are for everyone “children, women, youth and the elderly and anyone who has never been to the cinema before or who cannot go to view films in city centers.”

Aldeek knows all too well that there remain only one or two cinemas in Ramallah in the West Bank as compared to before the first Intifada in 1987 when every major city in the West Bank had two or three movie theaters. In fact; this was the motivating drive behind Aldeek’s project.

Although it is only a temporary project today, Aldeek hopes to make it permanent so as to “disseminate a communal cinema-going culture” among Palestinians. Although the producer and his friends were initially skeptical that the idea would work, they soon realized the “existing need people had for cinema.”

“There was a huge turnout, which was surprising. In some of the villages we screened the films several times after pressing requests from audiences,” he said. In the 60 villages and refugee camps in which the Mobile cinema travelled, over 7,000 viewers attended the shows.

“Most of the time,” Aldeek revealed, “only one person out of the hundreds of people has been to the cinema before. Anyone under the age of 13 has never been to the cinema before.”

But the Mobile Cinema team is doing more than just screening films; they are creating a documentary film to highlight their experiences and the people’s reactions and comments under the title “Making Happiness”.

And indeed, this is what Aldeek and his team seeks to achieve as they enthusiastically relate how they succeeded in their endeavor despite the minimal funding and notwithstanding the fact that they sometimes have to finance the shows at their own expense.

Aldeek confirmed that it is a non-profit project and added, “We screen the films for free and do not charge the people anything. We are volunteers.” However, he does not hide the fact that his team faces difficulties every day due to lack of funding, which potentially threatens the very purpose behind the Mobile Cinema – the ability to keep moving regardless of the obstacles in the way.

Such hindrances include the lack of proper transportation and Israeli checkpoints. On one occasion the team was banned from entering a city in Nablus after being stopped at a checkpoint under the pretext of needing a permit as no one but the city’s inhabitants were allowed to enter.

The Palestinian films screened at the Mobile Cinema reflect the reality of the daily lives of Palestinians and they include, “Wedding without a Home”, which revolves around a wedding held during the occupation, “I’m in Jerusalem” which tells the story of a boy who visits the Old City, prays in the Dome of the Rock, plays football and climbs olive trees in the Noble Sanctuary – only to wake up at the end of the film to realize it was all a dream. Other films include “Fifty Years after the Setback”, which documents the suffering endured by the refugees, and “The Night of the Soldiers”.

Aldeek added that these films do not only recount the reality that the Palestinians are living, but are also culturally important and act as a doorway to keep the Palestinian people in touch with Arab and International cinema.

Moreover, Aldeek regards the Mobile Cinema as a form of resistance; most of the films speak out against the Israeli occupation and reaffirm the Palestinian identity. By showing how people lead their lives in refugee camps and in remote villages, “we are resisting the destruction of our culture,” he said. Aldeek also reveals, “When we play an Algerian or Tunisian film, for example, we find people comparing it to their culture.”

Next Saturday 10 May, the Mobile Cinema is planning to host an international film festival in which 24 international films will be screened. The festival will be aired live in cities worldwide, including Cairo and Paris. Aldeek disclosed that several prominent figures will be key speakers during the festival, including Queen Noor [al Hussein of Jordan].

Despite the great success achieved by Aldeek and his team, they still confront difficulties and obstacles on the road to ‘making happiness’. What started out as an idea; a second-hand 16mm projector and a few old reels, has now become a source of joy to so many people and especially children. The Mobile Cinema has recently seen an upgrade after the Palestinian Securities Exchange sponsored it and bought an LCD projector and films in DVD format.

Aldeek explained that it would be ideal if they had a 35mm projector, but without sponsorship the funds are available to purchase one. And yet still; in their beat-up car that often breaks down during their road trips, Aldeek and his team refuse to give up on their dream. They can sometimes be seen carrying their equipment on the side of the road and hitching rides to their next destination and will do anything it takes to continue “making happiness”.

Arab World Social Innovators Program

Yousef al-Deek, Palestine
Building social cohesion and reaffirming a cultural identity through cinema

Yousef is reviving the lost tradition of cinema in Palestine—rendered obsolete after years of occupation and economic deterioration. These adverse conditions have left Palestinians isolated from one other and estranged from the outside world with few resources available to communicate new ideas and human experiences from other cultures.

Yousef founded the Palestinian Social Cinema Arts Association (PSCAA) in 2007 to bring films to the poorest segments of Palestinian society. His hope was that cinema could encourage social cohesion and revive a lost cultural identity among many segments of young people who have never experienced cinema in their lifetimes.

By way of LCD projector and mobile screen, Yousef and his band of volunteers screen films that represent the complexity of life, not only in Palestine but also in other countries, and often touch upon taboo topics as a way to provoke introspection and social dialogue. To date, the PSCAA has screened films in over one hundred villages in the West Bank, reaching over twenty-five thousand Palestinians and hopes to offer this cultural opportunity to a larger audience in Palestine and neighboring countries.
Yousef and children playing with a video camera

At present, Yousef is working with the Ministry of Youth to establish ten new youth cinema clubs in various Palestinian villages, which will screen one film each week followed by a public debate about the social issues presented. These debates will help to present new ideas about issues such as the rights of youth and women, offering the audience new perspectives and ways of thinking on the subject. The PSCAA also trains young people in the fundamentals and art of filmmaking through workshops and summer camps to inspire them and hone their skills. In 2010, the PSCAA seeks to screen fifty to seventy films throughout the West Bank and to organize the first social cinema film festival in Palestine focused on youth films.

Yousef’s initiative has received international attention and has been featured on CNN and Al-Jazeera. He has directed a film entitled Kafa about social relations within Palestinian society, which won the 2009 Golden Prize at the Arab Broadcasters Film Festival and the 2008 Silver Award at the Cairo Arab Film Festival.

* Watch “The Palestinian Projectionist,” an interview with Yousef on CNN.
* Read an article about Yousef and PSCAA in Asharq Alawsat (in English).

To contact Yousef:
Tel: 0097022951023
فضاء رام الله يستقبل افلاما سينمائية في مهرجان “انسان”
24/06/2011 01:32:00 م | الأخبار العربية
تصغير الخطالشكل الأساسيتكبير الخط
فضاء رام الله يستقبل افلاما سينمائية في مهرجان “انسان”
فضاء رام الله يستقبل افلاما سينمائية في مهرجان “انسان”
رام الله – 24 – 6 (كونا) — عاش الجمهور الفلسطيني تجربة جديدة بعرض سينمائي جديد احتضنه فضاء رام الله في اول ايام عروض المهرجان السينمائي الاول الذي تنظمه الجمعية الفلسطينية للفنون السينمائية “انسان”.
وافتتح المهرجان بالفيلم الهندي “اسمي خان” الذي يناقش قضايا مرضى التوحد والعلاقة بين المسلمين والهندوس والمعاناة التي يعيشها المسلمون في الولايات المتحدة بعد احداث 11 سبتمبر 2001 .
وقد حقق فيلم “اسمي خان” حضورا عالميا لافتا وحصد جوائز عديدة وهو واحد من خمسة افلام روائية حققت حضورا هاما على الصعيد العالمي ستعرض على مدار ايام المهرجان حيث سيتواصل حتى مساء الثامن والعشرين من ذات الشهر.
سينما الهواء الطلق او سينما الشارع كما يريد البعض تسميتها انطلقت في ساحة واسعة مقابل بلدية رام الله ما جعلها تتسع لعائلات باكملها دون تذاكر ولم تضيق على المشاة الذين انضموا لحضور الفيلم الاول خاصة وان ساحة العرض تقع في منطقة حيوية تعج بالمتنزهات والمطاعم.
وقالت وزيرة الثقافة الفلسطينية سهام البرغوثي لوكالة الانباء الكويتية (كونا) خلال العرض “هذه فرصة تتيح للجمهور مشاهدة افلام عالمية وعربية حصلت على جوائز عديدة”.
واضافت ان هذا النوع من السينما يعطي الحياة للمدينة ويقدم فرصة للجميع دون استثناء لمتابعة الافلام خاصة وان الفلسطيني عانى مطولا من اغلاق الاحتلال الاسرائيلي دور السينما خلال فترة الثمنينات من القرن الماضي.
وقالت البرغوثي ان قناعتها تتمثل في ان افلام السينما تحاكي قضايا وهموم الناس من المواضيع الاجتماعية الى السياسية والاقتصادية مبينة ان السينما اداة تنويرية وتعبوية ولا ينظر لها على انها ترفيه فقط.
واوضحت ان وزارة الثقافة الفلسطينية تؤمن بدور السينما في التغيير ولذلك تعطيها الاهتمام والرعاية.
ومن جانبه قال مدير المهرجان يوسف الشايب في تصريح مماثل ل(كونا) ان الجديد في المهرجان انه يعرض لاول مرة في فلسطين افلاما مختصة بحقوق الانسان ويعتمد الافلام الروائية بدلا من الوثائقية.
واضاف الشايب انه تم اختيار الافلام بشكل مدروس بحيث تتحدث عن قضايا انسانية يعاني منها جميع البشر خلال السنتين الماضيتين من عدة مهرجانات عالمية.
واشار الى ان ادارة المهرجان تواصلت مع مخرجي ومنتجي الافلام المعروضة وحصلت على نسخ اقراص مدمجة المرئية “دي في دي” ترجمت الى العربية.
وتحدث يوسف الديك رئيس الجمعية الفلسطينية للفنون السينمائية عن مراحل السينما المتنقلة الذي اوصلها الى شكل اخر تجسد وسط رام الله بعروض في الهواء الطلق وقال ان البداية كانت مع افلام اطفال قديمة وجهاز عرض متواضع وبدا بالتنقل في القرى والمخيمات والمناطق البدوية وعرضها في هذه المناطق المهمشة.
واضاف في تصريح مماثل ل (كونا) “بادوات قديمة ومتواضعة يعتقد البعض ان لا قيمة لها تمكنا من صناعة الكثير”.
واشار الى انه اكتسف من خلال السينما الجوالة تعطش الجمهور الفلسطيني لمشاهدة الافلام والتامل فيها وتم تطوير الفكرة الى ان وصلت الى الجمعية الفلسطينية للفنون السينمائية.
وبين ان المشكلة لدى الفلسطينيين ليست في انتاج الافلام وانما في مشاهدتها حيث لا توجد دور عرض تمكن اكبر قدر من الجمهور من متابعتها.
ويشير الديك الى ان فكرة المهرجان لم تبتعد عن السينما الجوالة لانه يقام بعيدا عن الصالات المغلقة لتجعل العرض السينمائي في متناول الجميع.(النهاية) ن ق / م م ج كونا241332 جمت يون 11


BBC Arabic

Film and Festivals article

Babel Med article

Asharq Alawsat article

Synergos article


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