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BURIED ALIVE - THE STORY OF EAST TIMOR

Australia, 1989 (MIFF 1989)

Director: Gil Scrine

Buried Alive is a very apt title for a film about a country whose population has been sealed off from the rest of the world for the last 13 years. It is now almost 14 years since the invasion of East Timor and we still know very little about what really happened when Indonesia took the island by force. Certainly, the embargo on journalists has helped to safeguard those secrets. The simple feet that very litde visual material exists of East Timor makes it all the easier to dismiss the invasion and subsequent abuses of human rights.

This important new film by Gil Serine (Home on the Range ), is one of the first real attempts to portray the story of East Timor. This film does not confine itself to 1975. Instead, it traces the history of East Timor and establishes the conditions which left Timor a colonial leftover ready for the taking.

Traditional in style, the film is concise. It is in two parts; pre- and post-invasion. The tenacious and successful exclusion of news media by the Indonesians left the filmmakers with little film material post 1975. Undaunted they have instead given us the story of the survivors. Some batde for a new beginning and others battle in an official capacity, through the United Nations, attempting to make the world aware of the hundreds of thousands who have died and of the thousands they expect will die.

The East Timorese who talk in the film leave one convinced of the travesty of justice. The invasion temains one of the most blatant and deceptive acts against human rights this century: despite the fashionable expression of concern for human rights abuses by two of the prime accessories, Australia and America. -(DN)

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