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.”