(AFP) – Jul 31, 2008
DILI (AFP) — Filmmakers recreated scenes of chaos in the heart of East Timor's sleepy capital Thursday, blocking streets and sending up plumes of smoke for an Australian movie on Indonesia's bloody 1975 invasion.
Between 60 and 70 locals took part and 30 East Timorese soldiers dressed as Indonesian troops holding fake rifles in the filming of Australian film "Balibo," United Nations police said.
Dili residents were given advance warning of the filming to avoid traffic chaos and distress in a city where the wounds of Indonesia's 24-year occupation are still raw, police said.
Dominga Martins, a 57-year-old Dili resident who acted as an extra in the movie, said the filming brought back painful memories of Indonesian troops storming into the city when she was a young woman.
"Being involved in this film about '75 made me so sad I cried because I lost many in my family -- my mother, my father, my brothers and sisters," Martins said.
"This film really is a lot like when the soldiers landed in East Timor, which killed so many people, including Indonesian soldiers," she said.
Domingos Amaral, a 48-year-old watching the filming, said the movie appeared to be an accurate portrayal of the invasion by Indonesian amphibious and parachute troops.
"They came from the bodies of planes like horses' droppings and at the time we didn't know our fate, whether we would live or die," he said.
At least two people were slightly injured during the filming, as East Timorese troops playing the role of invaders shoved and kicked their way into a crowd of Timorese extras, an AFP correspondent witnessed.
The film, which is also being shot in the Australian city of Darwin, explores the alleged 1975 murder of five Australia-based journalists by Indonesian troops in the East Timorese town of Balibo.
An inquest in Australia last year found the five were murdered to prevent them exposing the invasion, but Indonesia maintains they were accidentally killed in crossfire.
The killings remain a bone of contention between Australia and Indonesia and a foreign ministry spokesman in Jakarta has called on the filmmakers to include "Indonesia's point of view".
"Balibo" is directed by Robert Connolly and stars Australian-born Hollywood actor Anthony LaPaglia.
"I think this is a very important story, not so much because it is about the Balibo five but also it is about the issues of East Timor, the kind of things that happened here," LaPaglia said.
"I think it is important because I live in the USA and nobody there knows about Timor at all," he said.
East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, gained formal independence in 2002 after a 24-year Indonesian occupation that is estimated to have caused the deaths of as many as 200,000 people.
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