Movie Theaters in Israel

Less attention has been paid to its movie theaters, though from the 1940s through the 1960s and 1970s, they were an important physical symbol of Israeli cultural life.

 The entrance to Smadar Cinema in Jerusalem. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Smadar Cinema in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

My great-grandmother, for instance, was such a devotee, she had her own designated seat in the Tower cinema, Peckham, London, where she would spend almost every afternoon watching silent black and white movies, which she claimed were better than the later “talkies.” So enthusiastic was she that she walked off with a carton of the stuff the cinema management sprayed around the auditorium to keep it fresh. Apparently, she wanted her home to smell like the cinema, a misdemeanor for which my grandmother, her daughter, was called to account.

The generations that followed maintained her devotion, always prepared to watch three or four films at festivals, one after the other, and converting reluctant partners into fellow fanatics.

And now I have come to live next to the preserved exterior of what used to be one of Israel’s grand movie theaters.

There is international recognition of the achievements of Israel’s film industry, its film schools, directors and actors.

But much less attention has been paid to its movie theaters, though from the 1940s through the 1960s and 1970s, they were an important physical symbol of Israeli cultural life.