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“As a documentary filmmaker I go to a foreign land, and the people tell their stories and open their hearts.  In return, I give them back a film, but I don’t believe that a film alone has the power to change their circumstances in the long run.  Rebuilding Cinema Jenin gives each of those who participate the possibility to write the next chapter in their lives." 

Director Marcus Vetter.

headline the story continues   headline Renovating the building   headline REActivating the Cinema

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.

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.

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