Lebanon crisis

Open-air cinema fundraiser event takes place inside damaged Beirut house

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In an attempt to revive crises-ridden Beirut after the huge August 4 blast, a group of youth organized a three-night open-air cinema event in Gemmayze, a Beirut neighborhood most affected by the explosion.

Dozens of people gathered in a yard between cleaned rubble of damaged buildings. They sat on chairs, sofas or cushions set on stone blocks from the residues of the damaged buildings around, to watch films projected on a screen hung on a partially collapsed traditional Lebanese house.

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The event also serves as a fundraiser for the rebuilding of the house.

One of the former residents of the house, Marie-Joe Chemali, said she had mixed feelings about the screening.

“I am crying as the film is being screened on my destroyed house and people are sitting in this weird environment, watching movies,” she said.

One filmmaker who screened his movie as part of the event, George Hazim, echoed the mixed emotions.

“It is a very weird feeling, because it is as if we are celebrating the coming back of cinema in a place that was destroyed in front of our eyes,” Hazim said, as he stood in the event venue, surrounded by remains of the damages of Beirut blast.

‘Cinema Gemmayze’ screenings is part of a bigger project called “Raj3in aal-Beit” (English for “Coming back home”), set to revive the previously-crowded areas of Gemmayze and Mar Mikhael with a series of events.

A huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate detonated on August 4 in Beirut port after being stored unsafely for years, killing 200 people, injuring thousands and devastating entire districts. It is considered as one of the biggest non-nuclear blasts on record.

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