Monday, June 1, 2009

The Balibo Five

Balibo is a town in western Timor-Leste. In 1975, it was where five journalists working for Australian television were shot and killed by the Indonesian military -- during the invasion of what was then Portuguese Timor. The five reporters had traveled to Balibo -- close to the border with West Timor -- to capture the invasion on film. A sixth reporter, Roger East, played by Anthony LaPaglia, who traveled to Timor-Leste to investigate their deaths, was killed a few days later in Dili -- during the invasion.

No one has ever been charged with the killings.

Australian director Robert Connolly recently finished a movie, titled Balibo, about the killings and two special screenings were held this past weekend in Dili. He shot the film in Timor-Leste last July and August.

Even though the films' primary focus is about the six journalists, it also brings to the mainstream the killings of thousands of Timorese during the invasion and 24-year occupation by Indonesia -- a tragedy that seems to have remained largely under the radar screen.

Balibo will open the Melbourne (Australia) Film Festival in July and will be released in August.

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