Subject: Filmmaker sees East Timor through Rosa's eyes ABC Online

Filmmaker sees East Timor through Rosa's eyes

[This is the print version of story]

Updated November 26, 2008 10:12:37

"Rosa's Journey" is a new documentary set to air on Australian television. It tracks more than a year in the life of Timorese widow Rosa Martins and her brood of eight children. The political events of post independence timor are shown through Rosa's eyes who struggles to sustain a family now that the euphoria of independence has passed. It's the second time Rosa has featured in a film by Luigi Acquisto and I asked him what had changed since he made his last film eight years ago.

Presenter: Bill Bainbridge Speaker: Luigi Acquisto, Filmmaker * Listen: <> Windows <> Media

BILL BAINBRIDGE: Filmaker Luigi Acquisto first met Rosa Martins eight years ago while making the documentary Birth Of A Nation, about East Timor's struggle for independence. At the end of that film the tiny country erupted in a wave of celebration. But since then it has been wracked by conflict, internal displacement and the shooting of President Jose Ramos Horta. Luigi Acquisto says the Timor he sees today is sharply different to the one he witnessed while making his previous film.

LUIGI ACQUISTO: For Rosa the most important change that's happened for her is she's been able to reunite her family. When we first met Rosa, three of her children were in orphanages in different parts of East Timor.

BILL BAINBRIDGE: And so political events have an impact on her there. I understand that she feels her loyalty divided when Fretilin splits. Can you tell me a bit about that?

LUIGI ACQUISTO: The political events have a big impact on people's lives here. Rosa and many others here were just starting to get their lives together and you have a sense there was a momentum and all of that was suddenly stopped by the violence during the fighting between army, police and gangs and others in 2006. But, you know, maturity with people like Rosa wins out and they realise that all of these people have fought for independence in Timor and it really doesn't make a great deal of difference who wins.

BILL BAINBRIDGE: So the film closes with the shooting of the president, Jose Ramos Horta. How do you see the impact of that on Timor?

LUIGI ACQUISTO: When it happened I was in Dili, I was actually doing the post production, thinking "Well, you know, the story's over, we're going to wind it up" and then suddenly one morning, just probably a couple of kilometres from where I was living, I started to hear sirens and then very quickly heard that the president had been shot. I ran out with cameras and started filming people's reaction or Rosa's reaction and at that time or the week afterwards, while people didn't know whether he was going to live or die, and that was absolutely horrific here, and I think people were in shock, they were traumatised, not only because he'd been shot but also the implications for East Timor in the sense that I think it would have been, it would have gutted the country, in a way, it would have been a loss of faith.

The fact that he didn't die, that he's come back and he's resumed power, and that through his shooting, the whole issue of Major Alfredo and the petitioners and the rebels was resolved because Major Alfredo was shot and killed, others subsequently surrendered, I think, strangely enough, in the long-term, it's actually strengthened Timor. Out of that difficulty, out of that suffering, Timor's actually moved on. It would have been a very different scenario, I think, if the President hadn't survived that attack.

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