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Cinema Jenin

After two years of restoration works, the international cultural project Cinema Jenin opened its doors on August 5th with an impressive opening ceremony.

On behalf of our foundation, Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador and CINEMA FOR PEACE Ambassador Bianca Jagger spoke at the event. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad cut the ribbon to officially open the cinema. Bianca Jagger said in her welcome speech: “When I was in Jenin in 2002, I was shocked by the destruction of the city. Now I can see that Cinema Jenin gives the people new hope. I wish that the cinema will provide culture and education not only here in Jenin, but also in other cities throughout Palestine”.

CINEMA FOR PEACE founder Jaka Bizilj also expressed our strong belief in the reconciliation power of film and culture: “We hope Cinema Jenin will bring back to this formerly very dangerous place film and culture, and will build a bridge of understanding between Palestinians and Israelis’.

A symbol of this goal was the appearance at the opening of Samah Gadban, the 17-year-old girl from Israel who had received her donor heart from Palestinian boy Ismail Khatib. This emotional story is told in the movie “The Heart of Jenin” by Marcus Vetter; honoured at the Cinema for Peace Gala 2009 – the starting point for Cinema Jenin and the successful cooperation with the foundation.

CINEMA FOR PEACE supported the opening of Cinema Jenin and the Film Art Centre, where young people will learn to create their own movies on issues such as peace, reconciliation and justice. Furthermore, movies will be shown here to school classes and lectures on filmmaking will be held.

The news of the murder of the director of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin, Mer Khamis, on April 4th 2011 came to us as a shock. This terrible incident might entail even further negative implications.

The resurrection of Cinema Jenin has enormous dramatic potential and its story has originated a documentary called "Cinema Jenin - The Story of a Dream", by Marcus Vetter and Aleksei Bakri. Mer Khamis is one of the protagonists of this documentary film.

The film 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. (idfa)

"Cinema Jenin - The Story of a Dream" had its world Premiere at the 24. International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (idfa) on the 22nd of November 2011  as part of the competition.

The documentary is currently in German cinemas and has won several prizes already, including the "Prädikat besonders wertvoll" and the DEUTSCHEN KAMERAPREIS in the category of documentary films for best editing.





Fakhri Hamad (Project Manager Palestine -

Co-Founder Project), Ismael khatib

(Ambassador of Project Cinema Jenin -

Manager Cuneo Center)and Leonardo di Caprio

at the Cinema for Peace Gala 2009


Ismael Khatib during his speach at the

Cinema for Peace Gala 2009