East Jerusalem's Cultural Revival Continues With Reopening of Movie Theater

The Al-Quds cinema first opened in the early 1950s but shuttered following first intifada.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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The Al Quds cinema in East Jerusalem. Reopened after a 30-year absence.
The Al Quds cinema in East Jerusalem. Reopened after a 30-year absence.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

East Jerusalem’s only movie theater, the Al Quds, reopened last week after a nearly 30-year absence. The owners plan to screen Hollywood movies and make the theater a local attraction. Accordingly, the first movie to be shown was the Vin Diesel actioner “Furious 7.”

Al Quds cinema opened in the early 1950s on Al-Zahra Street, at the heart of the business and entertainment district of East Jerusalem. It was the grandest of Jerusalem’s cinemas and operated until the end of the 1980s. It shuttered following the first intifada and the economic collapse that ensued in the eastern part of the city.

Two other cinemas in East Jerusalem also closed down with Al Quds. One of them was later turned into an office building and the other became a banqueting hall.

Three years ago, Al Quds was renovated and occasionally screened documentaries, but the project failed to take off. Recently, sponsored by the Yabous Cultural Center, which is based in the same building as the cinema, it was renovated again and is now opening for commercial screenings.

“Our dream is to turn [Al Quds] into the main Palestinian movie theater in Jerusalem, and in all of Israel. We want to revive the cinema culture from the ashes of 1987,” operators posted on the cinema’s Facebook page.

Opening the movie theater is part of a surge in Palestinian culture in Jerusalem. Yabous center, named after the Jebusite people that built Jerusalem before it was conquered by King David, organizes art and cultural events.

Three years ago, the Issaf Nashashibi Center opened for cultural and literary events, also offering a library and archive. A museum of Palestinian history also opened nearby.

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