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ALM Feature

Lebanon's resistance through culture: Return of Beirut’s Metropolis Cinema

As Beirut continues to navigate its path toward recovery, Metropolis Cinema stands as a symbol of the enduring power of art and culture to resist, unite and inspire.
A visitor looks at portraits of late Franco-Lebanese film director Maroun Baghdadi and pictures from his movies at the venue of an exhibition dedicated to his memory in Beirut on December 12, 2023, as Lebanon commemorates the 30th annivesary of his death in an accident at the age of 43. (Photo by ANWAR AMRO / AFP) (Photo by ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images)

BEIRUT — Since its establishment in 2006, Metropolis Cinema served as a haven for enthusiasts of independent and author films, standing out amid the proliferation of commercial theaters dominated by Hollywood productions. It secured a prestigious place in the city's cultural scene until its operations were crippled due to the 2019 financial crisis and it was forced to shut down in January 2020.

Beirut’s cultural scene has always been a mosaic of creativity, marked by a fusion of various influences and a spirit of innovation. However, this scene has faced numerous challenges, including political instability, economic crises and the catastrophic Beirut port explosion in August 2020. The explosion in particular resulted in a severe blow to the city’s cultural institutions, many of which were damaged or destroyed.

Metropolis Cinema is now back in Beirut after four years of closure, finding symbolic resonance in the capital’s Mar Mikhael vibrant neighborhood, where Unifoncière S.A.L donated a plot of land to the association to build their own cinema space.

“Despite everything, the prospect of reopening our cinemas was always on our minds. At first, we looked into repurposing disused schools, abandoned cinemas and derelict factories. Then came the idea, considered crazy by some, of building our own venue,” Hania Mroueh, co-founder of the Metropolis Cinema Association, told Al-Monitor in a phone interview in English.

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