This understated documentary takes a little while to find its feet. But when it does, the co-production between Australia and Timor-Leste givesthe viewer plenty to contemplate – from the personal to the big picture political.
Shirley Shackleton is this film’s heart and soul. Shirley – co-writer and narrator – is the widow of Greg Shackleton, who was a Channel 7 reporter and one of the Balibo Five.
The Balibo Five were a group of Australian journalists who were brutally murdered in 1975 in what was then called Portuguese Timor, just before Indonesia came marching in. There has been no justice and, evidently, a cover up… A series of photos show Indonesia’s President Suharto cosying up to successive Australian prime ministers (and a koala), and, according to the voices here and elsewhere, Australia has a lot to answer for.
Dewy-eyed Whitlamites be warned – you’re in for some uncomfortable viewing. The documentary exposes a national shame that not enough Australians are aware of: this country’s reluctance to upset its relationship with Indonesia at the expense of doing the right thing by the families of the Balibo Five as well as the East Timorese.
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