Damascus cinemas struggle amid crisis

Published: Updated:

With a fleeing clientele and no new supply of movies, cinemas in the Syrian capital are struggling to stay open.

Cinema City, a modern multiplex movie theatre in Damascus, shut down earlier this year as the security situation deteriorated and skirmishes between regime and opposition forces have taken place on the city’s outskirts.

“Their chic customers left the capital; no one goes to the cinema anymore,” Jamal al-Sassa, manager of Fardos cinema in central Damascus told AFP.

Established in 1948, Fardos (Arabic for ‘Heaven’) is a run-down, ‘second-hand’ cinema in central Damascus, where just a handful of customers sit on faded and broken seats to watch repeats.

Cinemas of its type would usually buy older films that more modern, upmarket cinemas had already shown.

With no new suppliers to buy films from, Sassa is left repeating movies such as 2011’s Friends with Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis and Bride Wars, starring Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson from 2009.

According to Sassa, Syrian cinemas have been on the decline for some time, due to increasing internet usage and satellite television in the country.

“We used to have more than 40 people a night. Nowadays it’s four at the most,” he said.

Not everyone minds the theatre’s lack of ambience and variety.

“Sometimes I come and see the same film. I feel good here, I can even smoke,” said Samer, a customer of Fardos, according to AFP.
With investment sources having long dried up, Fardos’s future seems doubtful.

But Sassa says that he will try to stay open as long as possible.

“I would prefer to die than see the cinema close,” he said.

(With AFP)