By Tom Westcott.
Tripoli, 26 April 2013:
A bomb threat reportedly made this afternoon has stopped the Libya Movie Awards, a three-day film . . .[restrict]festival which was being held at the Mahari theatre, in the Radisson Blu Hotel.
Initially, no announcement was made to the audience of some 300, most of whom were Libyans. However, European diplomats present were alerted by their security details and Libya Herald staff attending the event saw some 20 people suddenly leave the theatre during the first film.
The show, which was due to run until 8:30 pm was, however, stopped after the first film ended. To avoid causing panic, organisers did not mention the fact that there was a security alert, apologised, and asked the rest of the audience to leave.
The EU believe that the threat was not specifically targeted at the film event. However, they are reviewing whether to continue with it tomorrow.
“The threat was not specifically against the Libya Movie Awards,” the EU programme manager for civil society and culture, Samir Gharbaoui, told the Libya Herald this evening, “but for us, security prevails, and we cannot put anyone at risk,” he said.
“We have decided to put everything on hold until further notice,” Gharbaoui said. “The coordination team from the organisers of the event – the EU, the Italian Cultural Institute and NGO 1Libya – are now deciding what to do, and we will make a formal announcement in due course.”
After everyone had left, the theatre doors were locked and security officials stationed at barriers closing off the side road leading to the theatre.
Libyan filmmaker Salhe Gawan, who has entered two films into the Libya Movie Awards competition, told the Libya Herald that the early finish to the evening came as a surprise: “They said we are so, so sorry but we have a problem and so we must finish now.” He added that they did not say that there was any danger. “Everybody then went outside and went home,” Gawan said.
Another Libyan, who arrived late and tried to get into the theatre via the inside entrance in the hotel said: “They told us it was closed because they were doing some normal procedures. ” He said people were saying that there was a security problem but no-one had officially announced this.
Five films were to be screened tonight by European and Yemeni filmmakers. Only the first film, Merry go round Judy by Italian filmmaker Adriano Sforzi, was shown.
Last night there were over 500 people at the event, which aims to help create a Libyan film industry and build a community of filmmakers. [/restrict]