Among the six screenings that Open Air Cinema did in Israel as part of the First Ukrainian Film Week there was one that we will be talking about for a long time. The city of Ashkelon is located 8 miles from Gaza – an unstable area on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It takes less than a minute for a rocket launched from Gaza to reach this city. Open Air Cinema crew left Ashkelon 20 minutes before the anti-missile alarm was set off.
Our partners from the Israeli Friends of Ukraine secured a great location for the screening: a municipal amphitheater by Kokhav ha-Tsafon School. Despite the constant threat of a terrorist attack kids hangout there every evening after school. Our screening attracted over 50 kids and their parents. Also Vice Mayor of Ashkelon Sofia Beilin attended the screening. She liked the idea of entertaining the community with outdoor movie screens. The concept was completely new to her. She especially underlined the easiness with which the screen is set up. Sofia said that it is always a challenge to comply with the security regulations when setting up a collapsible screen for mass events. Because our screen is kept afloat by pure air, even if it falls it can’t hurt anyone.
For centuries, the territory of present-day Ukraine was a meeting ground for many cultures and the dwelling place of one of the oldest and most populous Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. Informed by the findings of the shared historical narrative between audiences in Ukraine, Israel and the diasporas, we treated Ashkelon kids to Іван Сила / Strong Ivan, a children’s film about the “incredible adventures of Ivan Syla, the strongest man in the world.” The Ukrainian Jewish Encounter made these movie encounters possible.
“Going to Israel we completely realized the threat of terrorist attacks in an unstable Middle Eastern region. Holding the screening in Ashkelon 20 minutes before a rocket attack was the closest we were to war-like situation during this road show in Israel. This realization makes us especially thankful to the Ashkelon viewers who attended our event and had the whole fun one can have under the circumstances,” shares his impressions Nicholas Bazanov, Open Air Cinema Marketing Manager.