I received an email from Ergilio (Director of the Suai Youth Centre) yesterday while I was working on the first of a series of video letters to Suai …I have to ask him for permission to publish his letter in full .. at the moment he is sharing the news only with me and we want him to share it with you, the readers of our website. but I’m sure he will not mind this quote …
“Mana Jen Diak ka lae……..
We are busy with 12 Nov Massacre and AIDS day on 1st December …. we are organising a photography competition in the schools …. Rgds Egy”
I was in Dili for the Ninth Anniversary of the Santa Cruz Massacre with Veronica Pereira and over the next few days I will be posting video stories. The documentary stories begin with the first ‘Letter to Suai’ ‘Seeking the Light’ The Timorese have a very poetic language and it is often my desire to facilitate as simply as possible, their stories or songs. Many times I simply take the titles of my films and video letters from their words. This is the case for the first video letter which documents Timorese youth from the Taibisse’s ‘Quiet Moment’ Theatre Group and the ‘Rai Timor’ Theatre Group as they spoke from their hearts from high on the walls of the Santa Cruz Cemetry on November 12, 2000 before leaping to the ground to the sound of a wall of gunfire.
At the time and afterwards I was struck by the insensitivity of the seated guests who, unable to understand their words chattered and whispered throughout the performance despite the shshhh of others who did understand. My Tetun was very limited, and so the performance took me by surprise. I was having difficulties with positioning myself and my audio lead was faulty, creating intermittent crackling sounds. In documentary editing this rough footage would normally be cut out and inclusion of the whole performance would be limited by narrative and time constraints. The raw footage however gives everyone the opportunity to hear directly from these young people, about how they were feeling at that time. This was the first year after the ballot for Independence when Dili and the rest of the country was still devastated by the scorched earth campaign waged by the Indonesian backed militia before they departed. It was a time of mixed grief and trauma, happiness and high hopes for the future. The young men who organised the Remembrance that day,in their introduction, invite their leaders to remember the sacrifice of the people as the lead them out of the valley of tears into the future. In hindsight these words have added poignancy.
Episode two of ‘Seeking the Light’ shows a woman bursting from the crowd crying out an unscripted devastating lament in her native langauge Tetun, calling for recognition that the leadership’s decisions are causing the ordinary people unbearable suffering. Filomena dos Reis who counsels this woman, told me she lost three sons at the Santa Cruz Massacre. As she called for recognition of the pain of ordinary people, her vocal grief was hurriedly muffled by loud strains of music turned on by the organisers. Following this her sincere and powerful lament was replaced by a young girl reciting a rehearsed short history of East Timor in Portuguese, for the benefit of assembled international guests. ‘Seeking the Light’
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