Two heads, one bald, one full-hair, are peeking out from above the red velvet chairs. Their owners, Anwar Ben Badis and Mona Hajjar Halaby, who conduct the Arabic and English tours, respectively, of the Jerusalem, We Are Here (JWRH) interactive documentary, are exchanging family memories of the place. Dorit Naaman, the creator and director, joins them as up on the big screen fragments of an old reel start rolling.
It’s July 2015 and we are filming the opening shots of JWRH at the Regent, the longest-running cinema in Jerusalem. Today it has a different name, but to us, as we go about remapping this area and bringing back, albeit digitally, the people and the life that existed here till 1948, it is and always will be the Regent.
When I became involved in the Katamon Project, I made available to them a series of short video clips I had extracted from a film that was part of great-uncle Nando’s (Ferdinand Schtakleff’s) extensive library. ‘Nando’ and ‘films’ are synonymous in our family’s parlance. Rarely was he to be found without a camera in hand. In his Jerusalem days, he even ran the Regent Cinema in the German Colony for a spell.
A copy of this particular film, labelled Jerusalem 1946-47, had been given to us in VHS which I then had transferred to DVD from which I extracted the individual short clips. The quality, as a result of all these transformations, is poor but the content, depicting as it does various aspects of our family’s life in Jerusalem, is simply precious.