Saturday, November 22, 2008

Timor Leste Independent Film Festival

All the speeches had been made, everyone, including East Timor's president, had gone through the breakfast buffet line and settled into their seats for the six films in the independent film festival here in Dili at the Hotel Timor.

As the screen came to life -- suddenly, the room and the screen were plunged into darkness. Another power cut. It didn't last but a few seconds, but it meant re-setting the projector. The host apologized, but everyone seemed to understand. One person said -- "is this some kind of a joke."

He had no doubt attended what was to have been the screening of the films the previous night, when a power outage forced the hotel to crank up its generator. The generator ran for a few seconds before it blew up.

Fortunately, today's outage, followed by two more, lasted only a few seconds.

All six short films were produced by Timorese film makers -- some of the films were quite good.

The theme of the festival was peace.

One film, titled Dear Mom, told the story of an East Timorese student at the University of Hawaii, writing a letter to her mom back home as her country was exploding into violence in 2006. Another focused on the "peace" graffiti around Dili -- and included interviews with residents about what peace means to them.

I had to leave the film festival before the final film was shown. As I walked toward the back of the hall, the lights went out again and the screen went blank.

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