Hello out there, friends of Cinema Jenin! It’s been quite awhile since we last published some news on this site, so it’s about time you get an update!
Jenin's kids at the ticket window
As you might know, we managed to open the cinema in the beginning of August. The very day after the opening, we assumed regular operations in the cinema. We were open every day for the whole month of Ramadan, which started a few days after the Opening. During this time, we offered film screenings inside of the cinema, as well as live transmissions of the popular Bab-al-Harah Ramadan-Soap on the open-air screen behind the cinema. To give you an idea of how popular: the final episodes were attended by more guests than the Soccer World Cup Final, and emotions boiled significantly higher – I never heard so many people cheer when a bad guy was brought to justice!
The end of Ramadan was celebrated with the Eid-al-Fidr (“Feast of Sugar”), and we used the occasion to premier a new Egyptian Comedy, along with several animated films. As a special treat, we also screened “My father the Turk” in attendance of Marcus Vetter, who held a spontaneous Q&A session after the screening.
Family seating area on the balcony
During the whole Feast, we started screening films at 10 AM, and had our last show at 9 PM. Families and youngsters from Jenin turned up in such large numbers that we even had a couple of shows that were completely sold out!
But after that, things took a more negative direction. The fact that we were still highly indebted from the Opening started to become an obvious hindrance to the further success of the Cinema. Crippling us in our ability to invest, we could no longer rent new films. For example, a 35 mm film copy from Egypt costs 3000 $ and up, just to give you an idea. Without new films, the numbers of visitors started to drop steadily, leading us into a vicious circle that prevented us from lifting ourselves out of the debt! So there we were, the cinema with the best technology in the Westbank and beyond, showing films that were already on television.
Making matters even worse, some of our long-time volonteers were forced to leave the project in favor of payed jobs, because we could not offer them any salaries for their amazing work. This left us in the most depressing situation I personally encountered in the project since I joined it more than a year ago.
Concert at Cinema Jenin
Fortunately though, there was another Eid! In the mid of November, Jenin celebrated the Eid-al-Sagheer (“Feast of Slaughter”), and the remaining team in Jenin organized another special program with up to four shows every day. Despite of the program still consisting of older films, people from Jenin and the surrounding villages came back to the cinema in large numbers. This was also thanks to theatre performances and concerts we organized with a local theatre ensemble and a band from Jenin. This enabled us to purchase two new films from Egypt, and thereby presenting Jenin once again an attractive program.
Since the middle of January, we increased our program to four days a week, and it seems that our stubbornness is starting to be rewarded – people realize that the cinema is reliable, and that we keep the promises we make by publishing our program. Slowly, visitor numbers have picked up in the last two weeks, and we are confident that this trend will continue!
Theater performance at Cinema Jenin
To ensure this, we do need your support, though! Please donate to Cinema Jenin! At this stage, the Cinema Jenin Project is not yet self-sustainable. We can barely pay salaries to the Palestinian team, and it will still take a couple of weeks until we can afford to bring new films. Please help us in preventing another vicious circle! We are working very hard to establish Cinema Jenin as an important cultural center in Jenin and all of Palestine, with a diverse program that goes far beyond cinema. Please support us with your donations! Thank You!
Franz Stephan Macher