"In the late 1960s, a group of young Arab women and men devoted to the struggle for Palestinian freedom chose to contribute to the resistance through filmmaking, recording their lives, hopes, and their fight for justice. Working in both fiction and documentary, they strived to tell the stories of Palestine and to create a new kind of cinema.
Mustafa Abu Ali, who died July 2009. Considered the founding father of Palestinian Cinema, Abu Ali created the PLO's Film Division.
"Salvaged from the ruins of Beirut after 1982, Abu Ali's early film has only recently been made available. Shooting under extraordinary conditions, the director, who worked with Godard on his Ici et Ailleurs (Here and Elsewhere), and founded the PLO's film division, covers conditions in Lebanon's refugee camps, the effects of Israeli bombardments, and the lives of guerrillas in training camps. They Do Not Exist is a stylistically unique work which demonstrates the intersection between the political and the aesthetic.
Now recognised as a cornerstone in the development of Palestinian cinema, the film only received its Palestine premiere in 2003, when a group of Palestinian artists "smuggled" the director to a makeshift cinema in his hometown of Jerusalem (into which Israel bars his entry). Abu Ali, who saw his film for the first time in 20 years at this clandestine event noted: "We used to say 'Art for the Struggle', now it's 'Struggle for the Art'"