An historic independent theatre, the Ampere Cinema, in the city of Tripoli, Lebanon is set to reopen its doors to local audiences in coming weeks.
The site is being restored by the Bridges Of Lebanon project funded by Tiro Association For Arts, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) headed by Lebanese actor and cultural activist Kassem Istanbouli. Members of the association and volunteers are currently working on the cinema’s renovation.
“Tripoli has an educated, creative, resilient young population, and by opening this cultural space we want to offer them the possibility of a platform for arts within Lebanon of an international level, by showing their work and participating in the creation of Lebanon,” said Istanbouli. “We want to create opportunities for the young other than dreaming to leave the country.”
Tiro Association For Arts has spent the last eight years reopening closed cinemas in Lebanon, with a focus on areas outside Beirut, turning them into independent and free cultural platforms for the public. These spaces are programmed with music, theatre and cinema, as well as training workshops for young people.
Among the cinemas that the association has resurrected are the Hamra Cinema, Stars Cinema and Rivoli Cinema in Tyre, where the association is based, and Nabatieh in the south of Lebanon. Tripoli is located in the north of the country.
“Tiro Association For Arts has been denouncing for eight years the lack of spaces and cultural projects outside of Beirut,” Istanbouli continued. “At a time when inclusive spaces are most needed, audiences that enjoyed cinema and theatre in the past are being completely abandoned. Our commitment is to recover these cultural spaces outside of Beirut, because we firmly believe that creating and sharing culture strengthens co-existence in Lebanon.”
Istanbouli’s acting credits include Nadine Labaki’s Where Do We Go Now?, which played in Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2011.