A member of Syrian-Kurdish filmmaker Shero Hinde's mobile cinema prepares a laptop for a film screening. AFP
In a schoolyard of rural northeastern Syria, boys and girls break out into giggles watching Charlie Chaplin's pranks, a rare treat thanks to a mobile cinema roving through the countryside.
In Kurdish-held areas of the northeast, filmmaker Shero Hinde is screening films in remote villages using just a laptop, projector and a canvas screen.
"We've already shown films in towns but we wanted children in the villages to enjoy them too," said the bespectacled 39-year-old with thick greying curly hair.
With some films dubbed into Kurdish and others subtitled, he and a team of volunteers want to spread their love of cinema across Rojava, the Kurdish name of the semi-autonomous northeast of war-torn Syria.
"Our goal is that in a year's time, there won't be a kid in Rojava who hasn't been to the cinema," the Kurdish filmmaker said.
In local minds, cinema is also tied to tragedy, after a fire ripped through a theatre in the nearby town of Amuda in 1960, killing more than 280 children.
The mobile cinema, says Hinde, aims to introduce young children to the magic of the silver screen from the early days of moving pictures — something he missed out on as a schoolboy.
"When we were kids, the cinema was that dark place," said the filmmaker, wearing black-rimmed glasses and a green t-shirt.
To give today's children a different experience, "we're now trying to substitute that darkness for something beautiful and colourful", he said.
The mobile cinema's objective is also to screen "films linked to protecting the environment and personal freedoms", Hinde said.
On another evening in the village of Shaghir Bazar, children rushed in before the film started to grab front-row seats.
Among the audience, Amal Ibrahim said her son Kaddar, seven, and daughter Ayleen, six, were brimming with excitement.
Even some of the village's older men had turned up to see the cartoon adventure, after not having been to the cinema in decades.
Standing to one side, they reminisced about the films of their youth.
Though Kurdish-led fighters are still battling sleeper cells, Hinde and his team are already looking to the future.
Beyond their roving cinema, they dream of opening a movie theatre at a fixed location.
"But that will depend on the war ending and stability returning to the country," he said.
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