1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, who have been living under a debilitating Israeli siege for 10 years, do not have much space for cultural events — there is no proper cinema in the entire enclave — but this weekend the city’s port has been transformed into a venue for outdoor screenings.
The Red Carpet Festival showcases films focusing on human rights issues and aims to provide Palestinians, many of them unemployed, with a rare opportunity to explore their dreams, or at least practise a little escapism.
True to its name, the festival’s organisers have laid out a 100-metre (yard) long red carpet. But there are no celebrities, it’s for the thousands of ordinary Gazans turning out to watch the films.
“The children and poor people are walking on the carpet,” organiser Saad al-Saworki told AFP proudly at Friday’s opening night. “They are far more important than the carpet.”
The festival, which is in its third year, coincides with the Cannes Film Festival and aims to show that there is an alternative to the catwalks and glamour of its French counterpart, Saworki said.