GAZA CITY — On the big screen, a Palestinian was trying to audition for a singing contest over the Internet, because he was unable to leave the Gaza Strip. But the shoddy connection kept freezing, and the plucky hero eventually disappeared into a hazy cloud of belching smoke, as the generator he was using broke down.
Life imitates art in Gaza as anywhere else. The volume on the film veered madly between screeching and whispers. The hall was stifling for lack of air-conditioning in a place were power is restricted and never reliable.
The movie, ”The Idol” — based on the real-life “Arab Idol” winner, Mohammed Assaf — showed a Hamas gunman refusing to let the singer travel because his music is “un-Islamic.” And the organizers of the film festival where it was being screened had not even invited Mr. Assaf to attend for fear Hamas, the militant Islamist party that rules Gaza, would not allow it.
Hamas officials had insisted on censoring the festival’s offerings, editing out profanity, kissing and women in short skirts. And, on opening night, they ordered that the lights in the hall be left on to prevent any hanky-panky in the seats.