“Cinema Rex”

This review is part of our “Short Film Showcase,” a special section of reviews which we hope will give exposure to small films from around the world. 


What the world needs now is more films like “Cinema Rex,” an animated short by Mayan Engelman and Eliran Peled. This beautiful film tells the story about the power of cinema to bring us together through the universal language of movies. It’s a simple tale of finding a common language that unites instead of divides different cultures, and it’s brought to life with charming storybook-style drawings.

Cinema Rex was a real theater in Jerusalem that operated from 1937-1939. It was one of the only business at the time that was run by both a Jewish and Arab owner. The short is set in the divided city in 1938, where two children meet and share a love for the escapism that movies provide. The little boy speaks only Hebrew, and the little girl speaks only Arabic. The kids aren’t aware of their differences on a deeper level, it’s their parents who tear them away at the end because their cultures dictate that the little ones are supposed to be enemies.

The short is inspiring as the kids escape to a world of fantasy and daydreams, sharing and reveling in the mutual escapism that the flicker of a big screen provides. But there’s also an undercurrent of sadness as it becomes clear that racism and hate are taught. The film is family-friendly, which makes its message even more global.

Movie lovers will be touched by “Cinema Rex,” especially those of us who remember when we were first exposed to the magic of the movies. Whether it was from a static-filled VHS tape, a deteriorating 16mm print from the local library, or even a digital DVD copy, this short will bring those memories rushing back. It’s also a beautiful reminder that we all need a little more art and a lot less anger and animosity if we hope to survive.

By: Louisa Moore

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