Police probe possible 'hate crime' at historic cinema ahead of Supernova festival attack documentary screening

Red graffiti could be seen on the cinema on Thursday morning (@EIE2024)
Red graffiti could be seen on the cinema on Thursday morning (@EIE2024)

Police are investigating a possible "hate crime" after one of London’s oldest cinemas was defaced ahead of a screening of a documentary looking at the Hamas attack on the Supernova festival.

The Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley was covered in red graffiti saying “Say no to artwashing” on Thursday.

The cinema is reportedly due to be holding a private screening of Supernova: The Music Festival Massacre as part of the international Seret film festival.

Protests and counter protests are expected at the cinema.

Hamas militants opened fire on crowds killing 260 people at the festival in the Negev desert on October 7.

The Met Police said: "While inquiries 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 graffiti was sprayed over the cinemas famous art deco front (@EIE2024)
The graffiti was sprayed over the cinemas famous art deco front (@EIE2024)

Odelia Haroush, one of the founders of the Seret film festival, told the Jewish Chronicle: “What they have written is awful, and it’s so not true. On the contrary to artwashing, we are showing what really happened on October 7.

“We are showing a documentary film. The world should know about the horrors.”

He continued: “I’m totally against cancelling culture. If the other side has something to say, they can make a film and screen it.”

The cinema’s manager Ewelina Sadlowska also told the specialist news site: “I love this building, I love the cinema, so I almost cried, especially at this time, when we are really struggling, and we look after the cinema the best we can.

“The statement itself is a bit concerning to us because we are trying our best to stay neutral and just be a cultural venue and not a political venue. I’m really upset about the damage and what it does to the community.”

The art deco building is Britain's oldest continuously-working cinema.

It opened as the Picturedrome in 1910 but its elaborate Edwardian exterior facade was removed in 1938 and an art deco style introduced.

The dispute follows criticism of the Rio Cinema in Dalston, which came under fire over its decision not to screen the Eurovision Song Contest final over Israel’s participation.

The popular east London cinema made headlines in March, when it announced it would be boycotting the music competition “while Israel remains in it”.

Multiple people accused the cinema, which is registered as a charity, of antisemitism and the governmental Charity Commission has launched an investigation.