Cinema Industry in Palestine
The cinema industry in Palestine is quite young as compared to the cinema industry in the Arab world. This is evidenced by the fact that most Palestinian movies are made with Israeli and European support. These movies may at times have a biased theme due to the origin of the support used in making of the given movie. Palestinian movies have developed through various stages. These include;
- The first period between 1935-48.
The first period highlights the beginning of the Palestinian cinema industry. The first Palestinian film made in the Palestinian cinema industry was a documentary on the visit of King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia in 1935 to Palestine. The movie basically showed the kings visit to various locations in the Palestinian nation. This movie compiled by Ibrahim Hassan Sirhan, was not highly publicized and resulted to a low profile movie. This movie was followed by several other movies which were unfortunately lost when Jaffa was bombarded. Some movies lost include “A storm at Home”.
- The second period: The era of silence between 1948 to 1967.
The Naqba (the massive migration of Palestinians) in 1948 was devastating to the Palestinian society. This included all industries and the nascent film industry was not spared. Cinematic activities required infrastructure, finance and well trained crew crews almost ceased operation for period not less than two decades. Palestinians participated in film-production in the neighboring countries. For example Sirhan was involved in the production of the Jordanian film, The Struggle in Jarash,(1957). During this period Palestinian cinemas were affected by lack of necessary infrastructure and negative attitude to what was viewed as a western idea clipping into Palestine.
- The 3rd period of cinema in exile, 1968-82.
After 1967, the Palestinian cinema was found under the patronage of the PLO and sourcing their funds from Fatah and other many Palestinian organizations. This film festival held in 1973 in Baghdad was aimed at promoting the Palestinian cinema industry. Various organizations created archives for the newly produced Palestinian films with the largest archive being run by PLO's Film Foundation. In 1982, Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was forced out of Beirut resulting to loss of the archive under unclear circumstances.
- The fourth period: 1980 to the present.
In the 1996 drama, the Chronicle of a Disappearance received international recognition and thus becoming the first Palestinian movie to receiving national release in the United States. A performing film for its kind, the movie won the "New Director's Prize" during the Seattle International Film Festival and the "Luigi De Laurent is Award". In 2008 international efforts were launched to reopen Cinema Jenin, a cinema company located in Jenin Refugee Camp. In 2010, the governing authority of the Gaza Strip Hamas, announced the completion of the film. The Great Liberation which depicts destruction of Israel by Palestinians.
Currently, the cinema industry especially in the Gaza street faces major regulations from the governing authority with the requirement that the cinema produces items that only follow or support Hamas edicts.