Last night in Canberra was the premiere screening of the new documentary "Time to Draw the Line".
Close to 200 people attended a reception and premiere screening at Parliament House in Canberra with many then gathering after at East Timor's Embassy. I think this film is going to be a big help in explaining the Timor Sea story to people and why it is important that Australia and East Timor resolve the maritime boundary issue now.
Executive producers, Ines Almeida and Janelle Saffin and film makers Mandy King and Fabio Cavadini have managed to tell the story of Australia and Timor's relationship in a way that shares the highs and lows since World War II right up to the present day. The movie is fast paced using historical footage and current commentary from many Australian voices. I was pleased to be able to add to those voices
Janelle Saffin, former Federal MP for Page, was MC for the night and explained some of the background to the film. Fellow producer, Ines de Almeida, was the person who came up with the idea that a film, focussed on the Australian perspective, was needed to help bring together the puzzle pieces of the story of Timor's claim for justice in the Timor Sea.
Janelle Saffin said that both of them knew from the beginning that the film makers had to be Mandy King and Fabio Cavadini [Frontyard Films]. Mandy and Fabio are counted among the few filmmakers who produced material on Timor in the late 1980's and 1990's with Mandy co-producing the AFI nominated film "The Shadow over Timor" and Fabio shooting and co-directing the feature length documentary, "Buried Alive - The Story of East Timor."
Mandy King said that the border issue needs to be understood more widely and thanked the Government of Timor-Letse for their funding assistance that enabled them to get the project to the stage of its first screening.
The newly elected Member for Solomon, the Hon. Luke Gosling MP was the Parliamentary host for the event and as a spoke of his long friendship with the people of Timor-Leste and his pride in the Labor policy to negotiate the maritime boundary.
Mr. Gosling talked about his connection with Timor through his involvement with the Australian Defence Force and friendship with the Kenneally family who were well represented on the night. The late Paddy Kenneally features in the film. Paddy was a World War II Timor veteran who constantly called on Australia to deal fairly with Timor and to recognise the 'debt of honour' that he and other veterans felt Australia owed to the Timorese people. Paddy's wife Nora and children were special guests at the screening.
The film honours the commitment of these veterans who wanted to honour East Timor by treating them fairly.
Liberal MP Michael Sukkar attended after being requested by one of his constituents, Lindy Yeates, one of the speakers in the film and one of the artists of the Mind The Gap Art Exhibition. The Hon. Warren Snowdon MP attended taking the opportunity to connect with old friends.
Many others came including commentators such as Fr. Frank Brennan, members of the Clergy such as Bishop Pat Power and Bishop Hilton Deakin, Ex Service personnel such as Michael Stone and Chris Perrin, Timorese community members and students, the list goes on ...
"Time to Draw the Line" was well received with long and loud applause from the audience and acclamation for the film makers and executive producers.
It was exciting that the film and the audience included the participation of young Australians. Students from Canberra's Radford College, which has a Timor-Leste visit program coordinated by Father Richard Browning, assisted with the logistics at the premiere. Students from the Australian National University who have taken an interest in the issue also came to learn more.
Before MC Janelle Saffin closed the night, Timor-Leste's former Minister for Economic Development and currently lead in the Timor, Indonesia, Australia Growth Triangle initiative, Mr. Joao Gonclaves, expressed his hope that the Government of Australia would move quickly to solve this lingering issue, where Timor-Leste is only seeking its rights under international law.
Now looking forward to a special screening to take place next Monday in North Sydney. More about that here.