Cinema Jenin and emotional urban places

Source: Pierre Johne -

Source: Pierre Johne – .

Euro-American cinema buildings expanded together with the growth of cities in the 20th century. The cinema became part of the city in terms of buildings but also developed culturally with the flourishing of the Hollywood film industry that looked for distribution channel.

The ideas of Cinema Jenin came from a Filmmaker Chloe Ruthven who’s film ‘The Do Gooders’ (2013) was screened and discussed with grassroots community audience at  Dalston this year. In the discussion topics, one member of the audience asked ‘what is so special about cinema Jenin?’

The cinema Jenin in West Bank city of Jenin was the most impressive cinema in Palestinian territories. Founded in 1960s it comprised 500 seats with three screenings a day. Following the first intifada in 1987, the cinema closed and remained unused for 22 years. The rebuilding of the cinema started in 2008 with German volunteers and Palestinians in the hope to bring peace, self-empowerment and an alternative for young Palestinians to see a positive side of life instead of violence. We can see that the cinema is part of the city’s history and both became affected by the same conflict.  The cinema is reinvented and becomes itself an object in the film “Cinema Jenin – The Story of a Dream”, produced in  2011 by Marcus Vetter.

Source: Pierre Johne –

According to Giuliana Bruno, the cinema becomes an emotional place in the city where people can be transported by narratives in films. Bruno studied the Italian  film  ‘Cinema Paradisio’ (1988) by Giuseppe Tornatore, featuring the destruction of the cinema with an emotional crowd gathered outside the cinema. A scene of the film showed the potential separation between the cinema building and film medium where a film was screened in an outdoor wall. Hence, this idea follows Casetti’s argument of relocation of cinema as a media form and culture outside traditional cinema. The home cinema example is characteristic of this shift, whereby people tend to create a cinema at home with the use of a large screen, a high sound system and DVDs or films streaming online.


Bruno, G. (2008) ‘Motion and emotion: film and the urban fabric’ in Cities In transition: the moving image and the modern metropolis, ed. by Webber, A. and Wilson, E., London: Wallflower Press

Casetti, F. (2011) ‘Cinema lost and found: trajectories of relocation’ Screening the Past Issue 32

Cinema Paradisio  (1988) by Giuseppe Tornatore:  [Accessed 25/11/2014]


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