Director: Robert Connolly
Cast: Jean-Claude Brialy, Oscar Cornu
Other: Cinematography: Nestor Almendros
Year and Running Time: Australia 2009, 111 minutes
Year Screened: 2010
As Indonesia prepares to invade the tiny nation of East Timor five Australian based journalists go missing. Four weeks later veteran foreign correspondent Roger East is sent to East Timor by the young and charismatic Jose Ramos Horta to tell the story of his country and investigate the tale of the missing men. As East’s determination to uncover the truth grows, the threat of invasion intensifies and an unlikely friendship develops between the last foreign correspondent in East Timor and the man who will become President. Balibo is a political thriller that tells the true story of crimes that have been covered up for over thirty years.
The director Robert Connolly has exceeded all previous expectations and made a masterpiece of modern Australian cinema. Balibo begins in present-day East Timor with the recording of an oral history being given by a woman who was a young girl during the 1975 Indonesian invasion. Her story which at the end of the film we are reminded is but one of the lifetime of stories she has about Roger East. Beginning the film with the recording of an oral history establishes that the events that are about to be depicted in the film come from the testimony of eye witnesses, testimonies that differ significantly from the official position of the Australian and Indonesian governments who still claim that the journalists were simply caught in the cross-fire. Balibo is cleverly constructed as a dual narrative with the flashback scenes depicting the journey of the Balibo five being intercut with the scenes depicting East following in their footsteps. This not only keeps the film moving at a brisk pace and gives both stories equal importance but it provides an intrinsic link between the two stories.