An important film, Circle of Silence tells a complex history with great clarity

Special Interest Circle of Silence


Circle of Silence

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.



Circle of Silence


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