Historic cinema vandalised after showing documentary on Supernova festival terror attack

It was aired as part of the International Israeli Film Festival

Emma Guinness
Thursday 23 May 2024 15:08 BST

One of London’s oldest cinemas has been vandalised after making the decision to show a new film documenting the Hamas terror attack at the Nova Music Festival last year.

Supernova: The Music Festival Massacre features footage filmed by both survivors and Hamas attackers on the horrific October 7 attack.

The film is currently being aired as part of the Seret International Israeli Film Festival, which has been subject to boycott calls because of the country’s ongoing war on Gaza.

However, some pro-Palestinian protestors believe it should not be shown and is part of a broader attempt at justifying Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza.

Pictures on social media show the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley spraypainted in red with the message: “Say no to art washing” in block capitals.

Art Washing is a term used to describe the use of art to legitimise otherwise negative actions taken by a group or an individual.

The act of vandalism was met with outrage by locals, who took to social media to express their frustrations and spread word of a counter-protest taking place tonight (23 May).

The Phoenix Cinema has been targetted by vandals for taking part in an Israeli film festival
The Phoenix Cinema has been targetted by vandals for taking part in an Israeli film festival (Alamy)

Alongside a picture of the vandalism, Twitter (X) user Josh Howie wrote: “My local cinema. Now. For committing the crime of showing a documentary about Jews being murdered at a music festival.

“The modern Nazis are also protesting @Phoenixcinema tonight at 7. I’ll be there to greet them.”

A second local questioned: “How can a film about innocent young people butchered, raped and abducted be ‘Art Washing’?”

“East Finchley’s beloved @Phoenixcinema has been desecrated with graffiti simply because they are showing a film about a massacre of innocent Jews at a music festival,” wrote a third Twitter (X) user.

“Shame on the people that did this.”

The October 2023 attack on the music festival at the Israeli-Gaza border saw 364 people brutally lose their lives in one of the most shocking and well-documented chapters of the ongoing conflict.

The International Israeli Film Festival aims to support the country’s culture through film.

Seret wrote in a statement: “In recent months, the festival has faced challenges and pressures on cinema houses, with threats of boycotts and demands for cancellations.

“However, SERET remains steadfast in its commitment to promoting Israeli culture through cinema and refuses to succumb to censorship or cancellation.”

A GoFundMe has now been set up to support the Pheonix Cinema, which is the oldest cinema in London, in the aftermath of the vandalism. It has already surpassed its £1,500 target.

The Metropolitain Police told The Independent: “Police were called at 10:11hrs on Thursday, 23 May to reports of criminal damage at the Phoenix Cinema in High Road N2.

“An investigation has been launched. There have been no arrests.

“While enquiries are ongoing, at this time the incident is being investigated as a potential hate crime.

“Police had already been made aware of protests expected at the venue regarding a film screening on Thursday night.

“Officers will be there to make sure those attending can protest safely whilst at the same time minimising serious disruption to the community.”

The Independent has reached out to the Phoenix Cinema for comment.

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