In photos: Red carpet film festival asserts Gaza’s pride and talent

A crowd awaits the opening of the Karama Human Rights Film Festival in Shujaiya.

Lara Aburamadan

A grand red carpet ran between rows of destroyed apartment blocks and houses in the Gaza City district of Shujaiya last week, temporarily transforming one of the areas most devastated during Israel’s 51 days of bombing last summer. Dozens of men, women and children were massacred in Shujaiya on 20 July 2014.

The red carpet occasion was the Karama Human Rights Film Festival, produced by the Gaza-based production company Lama Film.

Khalil al-Mozayen, a film director and the manager of the festival, stated at a press conference that “The red carpet symbolizes equality — that not only celebrities and high profile personalities or politicians deserve to walk on red carpets but also the people who witnessed the brutal war and experienced the loss of a family member or the imprisonment of another.”

The festival audience was mainly made up of residents of Shujaiya, including many children.

Attendees walked down the red carpet nearly 500 meters away from the militarized boundary with Israel and the army sniper towers. Stepping foot on the red carpet stirred up both joy and sorrow for Shujaiya’s residents, as well as pride and dignity, and a reminder that they are not forgotten.

The approximately two dozen festival selections mainly concerned human rights.

Spokesperson Saud Aburamadan told The Electronic Intifada that the festival is the first of its kind in Gaza and that it sends a message that “in spite of siege and destruction, we have our minds and talents and creativity. We want to reflect an image that the darkness of wars can never hide Gaza’s shine because people love life.”

Al-Mozayen said, “Gaza embraces cinema despite the war and siege. Cinema is our gate to the world and we hope that next year we will be able to make the festival in West Bank and Jerusalem.”

A boy sits on the rubble of a destroyed home in front of al-Tawfiq mosque in Shujaiya, where the Karama Human Rights Film Festival was held last week.

Lara Aburamadan

Film festival attendees walk along a 60-meter-long red carpet.

Lara Aburamadan

A Karama Gaza Human Rights Film Festival screening.

Lara Aburamadan

A boy stands in front of the ruble of a destroyed home with the Karama Human Rights Film Festival banner behind him.

Lara Aburamadan




This event is the most powerful and human statement as to what Israel wreaked on Gaza last summer and to what everyone there yearns for: just a life that includes going to the movies ! The three days of films restored dignity and recognition to the people of Gaza who in their great majority detest all politics. It gave hope and joy: many young Gazans have never been to the cinema; older ones remember by-gone days when Palestinians there adored going to films. The Karama Film Festival will long be remembered when the ruins of Shijahiya are no more. It has gone a long way towards reconstructing Gaza, more than reports and empty déclarations - it has given its people the inner strength they need to continue to demand justice.

Lara Aburamadan

Lara Aburamadan is an independent photojournalist based in Gaza, Palestine. She tweets at @laraaburamadan and Vines at LaraAburamadan.