Monday, May 25, 2015

Do Not Believe That THEY DO NOT EXIST


Mustafa Abu Ali, the late General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was also one of the founders of Palestinian cinema.  One of his films that survives the 1982 disappearance of the national film archives from Beirut is his 1974 film THEY DO NOT EXIST, which won a Diploma of Honor at the 1974 Leipzig Film Festival and the Arab Film Critics Union Prize at the 1978 Carthage Film Fest.
The film began life as a simple profile of the Nabatieh refugee camp in south Lebanon, featuring children writing letters and sending gift packages to fedayeen hiding out in the forests in an undisclosed location.  However, things quickly changed and Abu Ali found himself at hand as a witness to the Israeli bombing of the camp in May and June 1974.  At that point, the film becomes less of an actuality and more of an outright agit-prop film, using a distinctively Marxist-Leninist formulation to link the carnage in the camp with the brutality of Vietnam, South Africa, and the Nazi regime.
One of the facts that is regrettable, however, is that the subtitling is in dire straits and could use an update.  Whole passages of Arabic go by without translation, while it is obvious in other spots that the proper wording is not being used, such as in a moment where 'parliament' is used rather than the proper noun of 'Knesset'.  This is obviously a part and parcel of the effort to make the story serve the needs of the ideology.  Regardless, the film is well worth watching and I post it below for your perusal.

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