GAZA, May 12 (Xinhua) — Hundreds of Palestinians walked Friday evening on a 100-meter-long red carpet, rolled out on the floor of Gaza fishermen’s dock at the opening ceremony of a 6-day annual film festival held in the Gaza Strip for the third year in a row.
The festival’s organizers said that the festival with the title “We want to return” shows the Palestinian cause is still alive.
The text of the Belfour Declaration was printed on the 100-meter-long red carpet, marking the one hundred years for the declaration. The attendants, who are ordinary people, walked on the carpet reaching a large cinema screen.
The declaration was actually a letter written on November 2, 1917, by the then foreign secretary of Britain, Arthur James Balfour, in which he promised the Jews a “national home” in Palestine, which was then a part of the Ottoman Empire but was soon to be ruled under a British mandate.
The Palestinians are demanding Britain to apologize to the Palestinian people “for the historic injustice they have been living through over the past hundred years,” said Yosor Abu Medein, one of the festival organizers, adding “the Palestinians are peacefully addressing the world through cinema.”
She said that dozens of films will be screened this year in two Palestinian cities, Gaza and Ramallah, as well as the city of Haifa in Israel, adding that one the festival’s films named The Ambulance will be screened in five Arab capitals in solidarity with the Red Carpet Film Festival and with the Gaza Strip.
The audience walking on the red carpet expressed happiness for having the festival in the Gaza Strip that has been under a tight Israeli blockade for ten years, causing hard living condition, high rates of poverty and unemployment.
“Our first film we screened tonight is directed by the Palestinian director Ra’ed Andoni, and it is called Ghost Hunting,” said Abdul Rahman Husein, one of the festival’s organizers, adding that the film talks about the suffering of Palestinian prisoners imprisoned in Israeli jails.
Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners have been going on a hunger strike for 26 days in a row, demanding to improve conditions in the jails.
“We choose the fishermen’s dock for the opening ceremony of the festival in order to send a message to the world that 2 million people in Gaza have been living under a tight Israeli blockade for ten years and that they love life,” said Hussein.
He added that “last year’s message of the festival was to tell the world that Gaza Strip populations don’t like to die, they love life and in spite of the mass destruction caused by the Israeli wars, they can find a space to enjoy watching films.”
The opening ceremony of the third film festival attracted hundreds of men, women and children. They walked on the red carpet that was rolled out on the floor, made out of the rubble of destroyed Palestinian homes.
“Our message this year is to tell the world that Gaza Strip populations want to end the blockade and end the internal Palestinian division,” said Hussein, adding “the festival aims at showing the world that there is another beautiful face for Gaza.”
The festival will screen about 25 films made by Palestinian, Arab and international artists, including short and long narrative and documentary films and animations. The films will be screened at different theaters as well as dozens of schools and cultural centers in the Gaza Strip.
Hanan al-Khawaja, a 32-year-old Palestinian woman from Gaza, said she came to the festival because she wanted to join this annual event, to be happy with it and watch the movie on the prisoners.
“I came here today with my friends because this event is different for me. It helps people get out of the horrible and miserable situation that the people here in Gaza are passing through.”
The Islamic Hamas movement violently seized control of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007. Over the past ten years, Israel waged three wars on the enclave.
Thirty years ago, there were ten cinema theaters in the Gaza Strip, but since the beginning of the first Palestinian Intifada or Uprising against Israel, which broke out in 1987, these cinema theaters were closed. However, some movie directors are trying to revive the cinemas in Gaza.
Sa’ed Sweirki, one of the festival’s organizers, said “Our message is so clear that Gaza has the ability to live in peace far from wars and misery.”