The world’s eeriest cinema hall is located in the Sinai Peninsula, in the Egyptian desert. Well, it isn’t exactly a hall. It’s more like an arrangement of wooden seats out in the open. It has been dubbed the ‘End of the World’ Cinema, and I think it couldn’t have had a better name. The neat arrangement of wooden seats in the middle of nowhere looks as apocalyptic as you can imagine – like a cinema used by a mysterious ancient civilization. The 150 seats are completely worn out, the screen’s foundations are broken and the building that once housed the generator and projector is in ruins. Surprisingly, the cinema is only a decade old.
I’m really not sure who would want to watch a movie sitting out in the open in the middle of a desert, but apparently a crazy Frenchman thought it was a brilliant idea. The project was his brainchild – he bought everything he needed for the cinema from an old theater in Cairo. According to Kaupo Kikkas, an Estonian photographer who recently took pictures of the site, the cinema was doomed ever since its conception.
“On a sunny day at the very beginning of this millennium, a crazy Frenchman found himself in the desert of Sinai,” he wrote. “After some puffs of a magic smoke he wondered – how come there are no cinemas in the middle of the desert? He flew back to Paris and arranged some money. After that he went to Cairo to buy original seats and projection equipment from an old cinema theater. Then came back to Sinai, arranged a generator for electricity, and a monstrous tractor to pull up the screen that was like a gigantic sail. And now more or less everything was ready for the premier.”
But the Frenchman had ignored one crucial aspect – local authorities. “Only detail he forgot was that this nice desert happens to be in Egypt. A country where local authorities are not too happy about such enthusiasm and spirit, especially if it comes from a crazy Frenchman. At the primer, everything went ‘accidentally’ wrong, their electricity generator was sabotaged and no movies were ever screened at the End of the World cinema.”
For now, the ghost-like theater lies abandoned, as though the 150 seats wait in anticipation of a screening that will never happen. The site is accessible by only one road – Dusti Road – that nobody ever takes. “Egypt is and was kind of a police state. In Sinai, it’s actually forbidden to go to the desert if you don’t take a tour or an organized trip. These tours and trips take you to all the same places and actually one route is just two miles away from the cinema,” said Kikkas. He also added that most locals know about the place but because of all the confusion between the government, the Frenchman and the Bedouins, but otherwise, no one ever talks about it.
I wonder what future generations will think of this theater centuries later. Perhaps they’ll imagine that great movies were screened and amazing shows were put up here. Or maybe they’ll be able to find a better use for it?