Al-Assi Cinema Studio: Glorious Past and Pale Present
Publication Type
Original research

Guided by modernity and openness, the fifth decade of the last century marked a turn in the course of urban development in the Palestinian city of Nablus. The year 1952, in particular, witnessed the construction of the Dawar, a main traffic node in the city center and a public space outside the Old City borders. That same year also witnessed the birth of al-Assi Cinema, which represented, together with other cinemas in the city, socio-cultural landmarks that left a footprint on the everyday life at that time. These two monuments and others were a manifestation of a new era of urban development and architecture and significantly influenced the sociocultural practices in the city. Al-Assi Cinema was not the first cinema in Nablus; it was preceded by others. Nonetheless, its story illuminates lifestyles and architectural forms that lasted in the city for several decades. At that time, the cinema was considered a source of inspiration for people who had no access to the outer world except through films and magazines. People mirrored what they used to see in the new films, especially imitating the lifestyles and common social practices of other cultures displayed in the films. From its inauguration in 1952, al-Assi Cinema Studio was open to the public until it suspended its activities at the beginning of the first intifada in 1987. It was reopened in 1994 along with al-Assi Studio, a wedding hall. Later, after being shelled in 2002 during Israeli incursions in the second intifada, its doors shut again, this time for good.1 It has ended up in a state of neglect and is sometimes used as a storage space, while its front yard is used as a parking lot. The dilapidated state of al-Assi Cinema reflects social and cultural transformations within a continuously changing landscape where cinema as a form of entertainment is considered to a certain extent socially inappropriate and had been replaced by other media and practices.

زهراء علي زواوي
Jerusalem Quarterly
Publisher Country
Publication Type
Both (Printed and Online)