Cinema Jenin follows an ambitious initiative to re-open a previously abandoned cinema in the West Bank city of Jenin. Founded in the 1960s, it was once the largest cinema in Palestine, today it stands as a hollow echo of its society. Re-building the cinema, Germans and Palestinians come together evoking often comedic but always political and cultural ramifacations. Cinema Jenin witnessed an intimate, nuanced and textured view into the city and its domestic affairs as well as the journey of a dedicated, loyal, often conflicted group of people who hope that the re-building of the cinema will be a bridge to peace, freedom and Palestinian self-empowerment.

The film CINEMA JENIN tells this story from the very first moment. It becomes a drawn-out process, as the German director at the center of his own story encounters complex cultural relationships and sentiments. Initially, he doesn’t understand many Palestinian customs and he gets taken to task for it on several occasions. What’s more, the involvement of foreign parties is a delicate issue for many Palestinians – especially when it comes to Israel. Although the new cinema is supposed to welcome everyone, the enterprise prompts reactions that reveal the painful nature of the relationship between Palestine and Israel. The word “peace” becomes extremely charged, and the initiators Ismael, Fakhri and Marcus have to take care that the social project doesn’t turn into a political one. These and other problems need to be solved with the help of a few big names, lots of volunteers, and even more cigarettes.

While “The Heart of Jenin” is celebrated internationally and most recently was awarded the German Film Price, Jenin is still lacking a place where its very own story could be told. The only cinema in town was closed more than twenty years ago. Parallel, the children from the cultural center that Ishmael opened after his son’s death wanted to produce their first short films, only to realize that they had no place to show it in. The decision to reopen the cinema emerged and Project Cinema Jenin was born. Marcus Vetter, Fakhri Hamad and Ismael Khatib, together with a group of enthusiastic locals and foreigners, were working tirelessly to bring the old cinema back to life.

The cinema resided in a large building surrounded by a vast garden. It had 200 seats on the first floor and another 200 on a balcony in which there were also private booths. However, having been closed for so long, it had been used as a dump and was in a deplorable condition. The wooden chairs were in a state of advanced decay, the old 35mm projectors were out of service and the screen had been torn up. The building itself and all pieces of equipment were in need of repair or replacement.

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Keeping its original design, local professionals supported by a team of international volunteers started clearing out the building, restoring the chairs, rebuilding the stage, renewing the toilets, repairing the roof, and fixing the air conditioning and the electrical system in summer 2009. Also, the garden surrounding the cinema was transformed into an outdoor cinema and a cafeteria and will provide the only public outdoor space in Jenin. The cinema projection, the light and the sound systems were installed under the supervision of two German production companies, guaranteeing high quality digital cinematic standards.

The cinema opened its doors to the public in August 2010 in a glamorous event. The local team currently involved in the renovation process acts as the core management team. Together with a group of young and old people from Jenin, parts of whom are already receiving technical training, they will be running the cinema. Film and theatre workshops in cooperation with local and international partners will get more people involved in the cinema. At the same time, the stages of Cinema Jenin will serve as the venues to present all cultural goods created this way, including (short) films, theatre plays, music concerts, etc. as well as for private feats such as weddings.

Festivals

2011  International Filmfestival Amsterdam (IDFA)
2011 Dubai International Filmfestival
2012 Festival Du Film Geneve
2012 Movies that Matter
2012

Planet Doc Filmfestival

2012 Dubai International Filmfestival
2012 Telluride Film Festival
2012 Flahertiana October Perm
2012 Inconvenient Films Vilnius
2012 Intern. Human Rights Film Festival Albania
2012 PriMed – IFF of Mediterranean DocFilm
2012 Bergen International Filmfestival

Awards

2009 German Cinema Award for Peace
2012 Bernhard Wicki Film Prize – The Bridge
2012

German Camera Award – Editing

2013 Nominated for German Television Award

A Production of Fimperspektive, Boomtown Media and Cinephil

Year of production 2011
Lenght 95 minutes
Format HD/35 mm/DCP
A Production of FILMPERSPEKTIVE GmbH
BOOMTOWN MEDIA
CINEPHIL
In Co-production with

SWR, ARTE, Senator Film, YES TV, VPRO

Supported by Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg
DFFF
MFG Baden-Württemberg
Rabinovich Filmfund
Sundance Institute
Distribution Senator Film
World sales CINEPHIL, Tel Aviv

In Co-production with SWR, ARTE, Senator Film, YES TV, VPRO

Director Marcus Vetter
Director of photography Aleksei Bakri
Sound Aljoscha Haupt
Editing Saskia Metten
Line producer

Marc Wächter, Assaf Mor

Music

Avi Belleli, Sven Kaiser

Producers Uwe Dierks, Thomas Grube, Marcus Vetter, Philippa Kowarski
Commissioning editors Martina Zöllner (SWR)
Gudrun Hanke El Ghomri (SWR)
Thomas Sessner (BR)
Ulle Schröder (ARTE)
Barbara Denz (NDR)

 

 

Dedicated to Juliano Mer-Khamis

Juliano Mer-Khamis was the impassioned director of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin. His secret love was the cinema, and he advocated and supported the rebuilding of Cinema Jenin from the very beginning. Two days before Marcus Vetter was to discuss a possible cooperation between Cinema Jenin and the Freedom Theatre Juliano was brutally shot to death.

The death of Juliano Mer-Khamis is a great loss for everyone who lives and breathes freedom in theater and film.

Family and friends say Goodbye to Juliano Mer-Khamis
Haaretz, 07.04.2011

Actor Juliano Mer-Khamis gunned down in Jenin

The Jerusalem Post, 04.04.2011

Israeli Actor Juliano Mer-Khamis Shot Dead in Jenin
HAARETZ, 04.04.2011

Israeli peace activist Juliano Mer Khamis shot dead in Jenin
The Guardian, 04.04.2011


Review: Cinema Jenin – A story of a dream
Graffitwithpunctation, Apr 27, 2013

Cinema Jenin at TCFF 2012
TCFF, Aug 21, 2012

'Cinema Jenin,' a West Bank Tragedy

HAARETZ, Aug 15, 2012

Cinema Jenin brings movies and revival to a scarred West Bank city
The Washington Post, Aug 11, 2012

West Bank culture boost as Cinema Jenin rolls out red carpet
The Guardian, Aug 5, 2012


It’s all about People – Cinema Jenin

We Magazin Interview with Marcus Vetter

Between Hope and Reality
Aqntara, Jul 4, 2012

German filmmaker renovates West Bank cinema
DW, Jun 29, 2012

Cinema Jenin International Film Festivla in Tel Aviv

docaviv, Mai 5, 2012


Cinema Jenin at Cinema for Peace Award

Cinema for Peace Foundation, 2012


Spezial Bernhard Wicki Prize for Cinema Jenin
Hollywood Reporter, Jun 16, 2011

A creative space beyond the grind of occupation
Mail&Guardian ZA, Jan 7, 2011

Foreign Office supports opening of Cinema Jenin

Foreign Office Germany, Aug. 4, 2010


Renovated cinema to bring new life to Jenin
BBC News UK, Jan 28, 2010

West Bank Movie Theatre comes back to life

HAARETZ, Nov 11, 2009

A West Bank Ruin, Reborn as a Peace Beacon
New York Times, Sep 11, 2009