Timor Leste actors' emotional scars remain

A scene from the Timor Leste film Beatriz’s War.

A scene from the Timor Leste film Beatriz’s War.

ACTORS in Timor Leste's first feature film, Beatriz's War, had their own memories of Indonesian atrocities to overcome as they portrayed their characters.

Gaspar Sacramento is chillingly and perversely compelling as Captain Sumitro, the Indonesian captain who was in command of Kraras village when then 1983 massacre happened.

When the people of Timor Leste voted for independence, the Indonesian military, in retribution for the Timorese temerity, killed hundreds, looted, systematically burnt the country to the ground and forcibly re-located over 20,000 Timorese to Indonesia.

Sarmento was in Bali at the time and learnt he was on the hit list so he fled to escape the death squads.

When the village massacre was filmed it brought back many memories for the men acting as extras on the movie.

In 1983 some were in the villages as the Indonesians started killing.

Three of them survived by feigning death and remaining motionless, buried under a pile of bodies.

Others had escaped prior to the massacre, but had fathers, sons or brothers who were murdered.

All insisted on playing their part in the recreation, but as the cameras started rolling the men started to weep.

Eyes turned to the director to see why she hadn't called “cut” and she also was weeping.

Beatriz's War will be shown at the Picture Show Man, Merimbula, on May 19 at 6.30pm and tickets can be purchased at all Bega Valley Shire Council libraries and Magpie Music.

The film's plot tells the story of a young husband who disappears during the brutal massacre by occupying Indonesia forces.

In the “village of widows” his wife, Beatriz, becomes a clandestine leader.

In 1999, following Timor Leste's independence, the husband returns.

The reunion is joyful, but then Beatriz has doubts.

Is this her husband Tomas, or is he an imposter or a spirit? 

Beatriz's War is a haunting, passionate story of one woman's conviction to remain true to the man she loves and the country for which she fought.

Beatriz's War has won a number of awards, including the Best Film Award (The Golden Peacock) at the 44th International Film Festival of India, 2013.

It also won the Australian Cinematography Award 2013 for the best cinematography.

The film is being presented by the Bega Valley Advocates for Timor Leste. The Ambassador for East Timor will be there as well as one of the film's producers. 

Tickets for the fundraising screening of Beatriz's War can be purchased at The Picture Show Man Merimbula on Monday from 6pm.

Tickets are $20 and proceeds will go to Dili Film Works. 

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