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From the creators of RHYTHM IS IT! and TRIP TO ASIA
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CinemaJenin-Festivals
From the creators of RHYTHM IS IT! and TRIP TO ASIA
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CinemaJenin-Credits

VOD & Trailer

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.

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Trilogy

Three films tell stories of freedom and peace

The three films “Heart of Jenin”, “Cinema Jenin” and “After the Silence” wonderfully tell the complex history of Palestine using the example of the city of Jenin. There are three films of hope, but also of despair. But above all, these stories show that it is worth dreaming.

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Cinema Jenin

The story of a dream

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.

“I am deeply committed to Cinema Jenin.”

Roger Waters, founder of Pink Floyd

“CINEMA JENIN is a story about courage in hopelessness. But it’s much more about the power of hope and a common goal.”

Rating “EXCEPTIONALLY VALUABLE” and “DOCUMENTARY FILM OF MAY 2012” by German Film and Media Rating (FBW)

“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.”

Marcus Vetter about the project Cinema Jenin

Director´s Statement

by Alex Bakri and Marcus Vetter

When you come to Jenin, you immediately notice the colors. Lush green fields and earth brown landscapes harmonize with the even more colorful colors on the market place of the city. In this market, red martyr-glorifying posters on the walls of the shops and their yellow entrances. Green cars, blue, purple, red, brown, even pink – everything flows into each other on the main streets of the city. A kaleidoscopic choreography, like I have never seen in any other city before. My first visit was to the city’s refugee camp, a far less colorful place a few years ago. The Israeli army cleaned it up, leaving almost nothing but rubble. The damage is still being repaired, but it will be repaired in monochrome type: a white-grey color marks those houses which were devastated at that time. I was here for the first time in 2007 as a translator for the documentary film “The Heart of Jenin”. The film told the story of 11-year-old Ahmed Khatib, who was killed by Israeli soldiers. His father Ismail decided the same day that his son’s organs were to be donated to Israeli children should be donated – a gesture of peace. Ahmed’s organs save five lives. While working on this film, director Marcus Vetter and I often discussed the relationship between reality and Cinema. More precisely, about the different truths of a documentary and a feature film. At that time the “job” of every filmmaker was to seek and uncover the truth, wherever it lies hidden. And I was of the opinion that this should be done without any intervention. This view should, however, be radically change.

A year later, Marcus and I met again, here in Jenin. This time we listened to Ismail’s story of a forgotten cinema that he dreamed of reopening one day. Like the rest of Jenin, Ismail longs for it, to resume his life and be able to life with his family in a normal environment. For us a compelling moment when we couldn’t help but offer our help to Ismael. His brave step towards peace had to be continued. And we thought, yes, he’s right, a cinema is just the thing for that! We filmed the project from the first moment. At the beginning we did not yet have a structured concept, what and how we would film it. We went with the camera on the trail of the characters, always on the lookout for a story to tell. It started with Marcus and Fakhri Hamad, a law graduate who never got the chance to practice law. He helped Ismael at the youth center. Marcus and Fakhri started out together to search for for possible sponsors for the renovation of the cinema. Neither of them had any experience and so they initially only managed a considerable number of business cards. These difficulties kept going for quite some time. The Palestinian and the German shared intimate moments, dark humor, expectations, joy, anger, frustration and exertion – everything that life has to offer.

The filming of these daily fragments of real life, made me realized later that I had already found what I was looking for. As the project progressed, more and more people came to help. The next turning point for me was the discovery of Hussein, a former projectionist of the old Cinema Jenin. When he first entered the room it was like in a movie. A broad, aging, clumsy man with a hoarse voice, growling and mumbling to himself, crosses the old projection room like Charlie Chaplin. For some reason, he’s wearing an old computer keyboard under the arm. Without many words, he walks single-mindedly by the camera and resumes his work which he has been had left it there decades earlier. In a few minutes he performed nothing else than magic. What more than 20 years has been only a public toilet for pigeons, was suddenly brightly lit up again. All persons present were speechless. Enraptured by Hussein’s person, from then on I focused on him by making his heroic struggle with the old projectors. Surprisingly, he always kept exactly to the frame of the picture, like a professional actor. Never a dull moment with Hussein. Almost everything what he did amazed me. Always bold, unexpected, touching and cinematic, Hussein kept everyone on their toes.

I needed just to pose, set up the picture and have a real to observe masters in action. After many hours of pictures with Marcus, Fakhri and Hussein, I came to the conclusion that I was not looking for I had to look for history. She’d be in front of my camera whether I wanted to or not. In every situation there is history. You just have to find it. The project Cinema Jenin could become one of many films about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a film about the occupation-related poverty in a so-called dangerous place. But that is not what we want. This film is about various unusual people, who regardless of their nationalities come together to create the only cinema in a city (and the entire region). More than literature, theatre, or any other form of art the cinema deals with the most banal and trivial moments of people. Those things that everyone can do with everyone everywhere has in common. A documentary film that reports from conflict areas easily runs the risk of slipping into clichés. But our film is intended treat his characters as individuals and not as representatives of a particular political statement. No labels, no slogans, just the incredible history of Cinema Jenin.

“This cinema project is like a legacy of my dead son Ahmed. With its history everything has begun and the cinema will be forever connected to it.”

Ismael Khateeb

Film press & Reviews

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

Between Hope and Reality

Aqntara, Jul 4, 2012

German filmmaker renovates West Bank cinema

DW, Jun 29, 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

Videos

The project

The story continues

Cinema Jenin is supported by Cinema Jenin e.V., a non-profit organization based in Germany consisting of filmmakers, cultural advocates and investors dedicated to globally promote cinema culture in such a way that sustainable development and cultural understanding along with free and fair education are encouraged. When we started the project “Cinema Jenin” in March 2008, we were driven by the belief that the story of the film “Heart of Jenin” shouldn’t finish with the film. We were filmmakers that wanted to bring a cinema back to life in a place that everyone had ceased to believe in.

When we started the project cinema jenin in March 2008, we were driven by the belief that the story of the film “Heart of Jenin” shouldn’t finish with the film. We were filmmakers that wanted to bring a cinema back to life in a place that everyone had ceased to believe in. Since at cinema jenin all internationals worked for free throughout the three years, we managed to build one of the most state-of-the-art cinemas in the Middle East for a total budget of about 750,000 EUR for the years 2009 and 2010. Cinema Jenin is equipped with two digital projector, two 35mm projectors, one open air cinema for 1000 visitors, a sound system that is also suitable for concerts and theater performances, a cafeteria, a cistern, to be independent from the public water supply, a photovoltaic solar system that is able to power the whole cinema, and much more. For the purpose of sustainability, we fitted thousands of meters of cable of the high professional CAT5&7. Keeping within the above mentioned budget, we also carried out film workshops and transported two big containers with new and used equipment from Germany to Jenin. We refurbished a guest house for hundreds of volunteers, that got board and lodging provided for in turn for their help. For experts we paid the travel costs. Included in that budget was also a three-day festival that was held for the opening of the cinema in August 2010.

“[The] cinema can help reviving the cultural life of the northern West Bank and counterbalancing the growing influence of political and religious radicalism and intolerance.”

Fareed Majari, former head of the Goethe-Institute in Palestine

Cinema Jenin

Association

Cinema Jenin closed and demolished

After the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis, the future of the cinema became uncertain. For security reasons, all the volunteers had to leave Jenin. Dr. Lamei, who was very close to Cinema Jenin’s heart, became the new project manager and ran the cinema for almost six years. Since the project was still seen by the resistance movement as a normalization project, people were afraid to visit the cinema. Its success was therefore limited, and funding became difficult. In 2016, the rental agreement for Cinema Jenin could not be extended, and the owners
decided to sell the cinema. It was then demolished and replaced by a shopping center. Unfortunately shortly also the guesthouse was destroyed.

In view of the tragic developments currently taking place in Israel/Palestine after October 7, we at Cinema Jenin e.V. have decided, in collaboration with Filmperspektive GMBH and Eikon Südwest, to re-release the three Jenin films THE HEART OF JENIN, CINEMA JNIN and AFTER SILENCE in a Palestine/Israel trilogy. These are all three award-winning films that show people – Israelis and Palestinians alike – who have tried to break the vicious circle of hatred and violence. Given the current situation, we think it is important to tell the background to the conflict that has been simmering for decades and to bring viewers closer to three different stories of people who have tried to break the vicious circle of violence and counter-violence in order to give the world and its leaders the courage to do the same.

Help us get these stories seen around the world. Donate to the non-profit organization Cinema Jenin e.V. and support the production of different language versions of these three films.

Donation account: Cinema Jenin e.V. | SWIFT: DE04 6407 0085 010 | BIC : DEUTDESS641| Keyword: Palestine-Israel-Trilogy

The Grand Opening in August 2010

On the 5th August 2010, after two years construction works, Cinema Jenin re-opened its doors for everyo-ne with a three-days festival. It was attended by numerous special guests from politics and arts, including performances from „Le Trio Joubran“ from Paris/Nazareth and Salam Abu Amneh & Band. Over 90 inter-national journalists were accredited to see when the Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad cut the red ribbon. First topic at the opening celebration was the screeningof „Heart of Jenin“. The program went on with fascinating Arab and international films and extraordinary concerts and a wide-ranging children’s program, rounding up the festival.

The Grand Opening had impressive media coverage all over the world. Amongst those were: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Berliner ZeitungTagesspiegel, Berliner Zeitung, Frankfurter Rundschau, Stuttgarter Zeitung, TAZ, Die Welt-Online, ZEIT Online, The Jewish Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Washington Post (USA), Daily Star (Lebanon), The Age (Australia), El País, The Guardian, Le Monde, BBC, CNN, AFP, dpa AP, Reuters, France24, Al-Jazeera English, CNN.com (USA), Need-to-Know on PBS (USA), heute, tagesschau

Hard Facts about Cinema Jenin

Property: 2 000 m²
Cinema: 335 seats / 340 m²
Screen: 5.80 x 10.30 m
Stage: 12 x 5,5 m
Open-Air Cinema & Cafeteria: 700 seats
Open-Air Stage: 4 x 8 m
Open-Air-Screen: 5 x 12 m
Guesthouse: 44 beds/ 8 bathrooms & showers/ wireless internet access/one big kitchen & dining room
LED screen: 3,08 x 3,84 m
Solar System: 208 m²/6143kw-h/year
Mediathek: 70 m²/ over 500 books & films
Teaching room for German language: 20 m²

the story continues

While Mracus Vetter´s film “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.

Renovating the building

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.

REActivating the Cinema

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.

Our goal

The overall goal of Cinema Jenin is to break the situation of isolation and lack of perspective in Jenin through creating sustainable change and improved living conditions. The project will use the means of cinema to do so. After the reconstruction of the old movie theater is complete, Jenin will once more have a cultural heart. Since it is the goal to let all people in Jenin benefit from the project, the official ticket price will be 5 Shekel (1 Euro).

Sustainable strategy

Economic sustainability will be reached through income generating activities in several fields. After the opening, there will be revenues from commercials shown in the film screenings and on a huge LED screen (3×4 m) on the cinema’s roof. Not only this advertising space but also its content will be produced and sold by Cinema Jenin. The necessary technical equipment is already being shipped to Jenin and staff trainings by volunteering German experts are being held in order to produce quality results. Other income sources include the Cinema Jenin Guest House which is already operational and an outdoor cafeteria.

The intertwined aspects of personnel and social sustainability are even more important to unfold the project’s full potential. Though having the advantage of rebuilding an old structure rather than implementing something totally alien, Cinema Jenin still needs to be accepted and in the end run by the people of Jenin. In order to make sure that the project is shaped by the needs of the local population Cinema Jenin is consequentially conceived and carried out as a German-Palestinian joint venture. But for the cinema to be truly sustainable on a social level, it needs to reach out to the entire population. This is why the educational activities such as special screenings for schools, film workshops and technical trainings will increase the number of people benefitting from the project.

The goal to break Jenin’s isolation comprises a multitude of objectives 
in three core areas:

1.Promoting Culture and Social Integration:



  • Re-establishing a culture of cinema-going
  • Integrating Jenin city and the refugee camp
  • Promoting culture in all its forms and providing a venue for artists
  • Raising awareness for women’s and children’s rights

2. Fostering Peace and Intercultural Dialogue:

  • Opening a window to the outside world in times of occupation and siege
  • Providing the means for cultural self expression towards the world
  • Reintegrating Jenin into a regional and international cultural exchange
  • Fostering principles of dialogue, peaceful conflict resolution, co-existence and acceptance of others

3. Strengthening Education and Economy:



  • Providing technical education and educational screenings for school classes
  • Creating sustainable jobs for the people of Jenin
  • Increasing the attractiveness of Jenin as a place to visit and do business
  • Setting the seed for a local film industry

Built in the early 60‘s, Cinema Jenin (West Bank, Palestine) was considered to be one of the largest and most impressive cinemas in Palestine. Hundreds of people attended it daily to watch films from the Arab world. Later, it started presenting action films and American B movies until it was closed as a movie theatre with the outbreak of the first Intifada in 1987. Now, Fakhri Hammad, a resident of Jenin, Marcus Vetter, a renowned German documentary filmmaker and a group of enthusiastic locals and foreigners were bringing the old cinema back to life! The story behind this ambitious plan began, when in 2005 Ismail Khateeb, a resident of the Jenin refugee camp, decided to donate the organs of his 11 year old son Ahmed, who was shot dead by the Israeli army. Despite his grief, Ismail decided that Israeli children should receive these organs, thus saving their lives. A year later, still deeply affected by his son’s death, he opened a culture centre for the children of the camp as an alternative for their street life. Thanks to foreign donations the centre started providing many activities among which film courses were given. The story of Ishmael’s gesture of greatness and peace captured the world’s media attention and is told in Marcus Vetter’s ward winning documentary “The Heart of Jenin”. But while the movie was celebrated internationally, Jenin was lacking a place where its very own story could be told. Parallel, the children from Ismails culture centre want to produce their first short film, only to realize that they had no place to show it in. The idea to rebuild the cinema was born! This resurrection of Cinema Jenin has enormous dramatic potential. Its story is being told in the form of the documentary film CINEMA JENIN – The STORY of a DREAM

Cinema Jenin is located in city centre of Jenin, next to the old church, the market and the main transportation routes. The Jenin governorate has roughly 230,000 inhabitants. Having been the site of fierce fighting in the Second Intifada, the city suffers from isolation on all levels – economic, social and cultural – ever since. Once a centre of commerce its unemployment has risen to nearly 80%. Options for leisure time and cultural activities are severely limited. And while the nearest cinema in Nablus city is only 40 km away, movement restrictions due to the occupation render it a place practically out of reach for many of Jenin’s inhabitants, leading to a situation where most citizens under the age of 20 have never seen a movie on a cinema screen. Thus, the only window to the world is television and, for those who have access to a computer, the internet. In this environment the cinema reborn will serve as a beacon of hope fostering the social and cultural reintegration and economic rehabilitation of Jenin.

“We will not only create jobs through the renovation of the cinema in Jenin but will first of all give young people a space for their talents and open a window to the world for them.”

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, former German Foreign Minister

Our Guesthouse

Cinema Jenin Guesthouse is closed.

Unfortunately the guest house was closed and has been demolished in 2017.

In our beautyful guesthouse we have welcoming everybody who wanted to visit the Westbank. We also invited volunteers and supporters from around the world to stay and work with us on the project. The guesthouse was situated next door to the Cinema and offered five spacious eight-bed rooms and two double rooms.

Prices have been calculated to keep the guesthouse running. We have been a non-profit organization, surplus takings have gone directly to the Cinema Jenin association in order to support our project.

VOLUNTEER AND TRAVEL

Be part of an enthusiastic team, working to bring back a cinema to the city of Jenin! As a volunteer, you stayed at our beautifully renovated guesthouse for a reduced price. In addition, the cost for Arabic language courses at our partner institute in Jenin had been reduced.

Our Location

Cinema Jenin and our guesthouse have been located in the heart of the city of Jenin, next to the old church, the market and the main bus station. Unfortunately the guest house was closed and demolished in 2017.

General information

Israel and Palestine country code: + 972
Currency: Shekel (approx. 5 Shekel = 1 Euro)
Visa: For Europeans a three month tourist visa is automatically issued upon arrival in Israel/Palestine.
Citizens of other countries should check with their local embassy. A Passport will suffice.

Shabbat in Israel:  Starts Friday at sunset and lasts until Saturday’s sunset. During these hours there is no public transport. Taxis are, however, available.

Jum’a in Palestine:  Shops close and public transport stops around 4:00 p.m. on Fridays. Taxis are, however, available.

What could you expect from Jenin?

  • A home away from home: Cinema Jenin Guesthouse was a beautifully renovated old Palestinian Villa with comfortable rooms, friendly staff and a relaxed atmosphere
  • We offered clean and bright dormitories with high ceilings and lots of space
  • Bathrooms with warm water showers
  • Washing machine
  • Frequent film screenings
  • W-lan access
  • Get in touch with your room mates while preparing a delicious dinner together in our spacious community kitchen
  • Enjoy colourful sunsets with a sweet cup of shay bi’lna’na (pepperminttea) on our rooftop terrace
  • Discover the city´s surroundings, hike the olive groves, relax in Jenin´s Turkish Hammam or attend one of the West Bank´s multifold cultural events
  • Take a tour around Jenin to discover the most diverse flora and fauna of the entire West Bank
  • Visit the Freedom Theatre in Jenin’s refugee camp and enjoy one of their famous shows
  • Meet nice people and have fun!

welcome to Jenin

The city is located in the West Bank between Nazareth and Nablus on a mountainous range, boasting orchards of olive trees. Grown from the ancient town of Ein-Ganam, Jenin has seen many rulers come and go: Byzantines, Crusaders, Beduin Princes, the combined troops of Turkey and Germany, who set up camps here during WWI, British Mandatory Forces and , at present, Israeli occupation. Jenin has been known worldwide as a centre of fierce fighting during the Second Intifada. The refugee camp, a neighbourhood where about a quarter of Jenin’s population is living, was the site of the “Battle of Jenin” in 2002. Until today, numerous posters of martyrs are lining the streets to commemorate these events.
Despite all these hardships, the majority of the inhabitants are committed to a non-violent way of resistance. Arriving in Jenin, you will enjoy its very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. You will hear the inhabitants talking about an “Intellectual Intifada” instead of armed resistance. As an important agricultural center and university town, Jenin is a lively place, with a bustling fruit market and busy alleyways, inhabited by extremely welcoming, friendly, smiling people, curious to know more about their guests and the foreign cultures. There is a phrase you will constantly hear while discovering the city: “Welcome to Jenin!”

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