The new documentary "Time to Draw the Line" was screened last night at the Mary MacKillop Centre in North Sydney. The film was well received by a near capacity crowd who gathered in the Isabel Menton Theatre for the NSW Timor Sea Justice Forum's 'Special Screening.'
The film, which runs about an hour, is a great introduction to the issue of the maritime boundary between Australia and East Timor. There is no boundary or border, and the Timorese want one.
Featuring mostly Australian voices on the issue, "Time to Draw the Line" does a fine job of presenting the current dispute in the wider context of the relationship between Australia and Timor-Leste going back to the second world war right through until the present day. To get a taste have a look at the short trailer. There is a Press Release about the film here.
People began arriving up to an hour before the screening which began soon after 6pm. Many old friends and supporters reconnected over tea and coffee in the theatre foyer along with some new faces and families.
I opened the proceedings with a short welcome on behalf of the forum and reminded all to keep up to date by checking into TIMFO regularly. Then Mandy King, who along with Fabio Cavadini are the film makers 'Frontyard Films', said a few words about this project, one that is obviously very dear to their hearts. Mandy and Fabio have had a long relationship with East Timor and were involved in producing two significant films about the situation there in the late 80's early 90's, a time when so little was available.
Mandy expressed her hope that the film could be a tool to raise this issue in the consciousness of Australian people, most of who were unaware of this "unfinished business in the Timor Sea". She acknowledged the support of the Government of Timor-Leste in funding the project. Meanwhile, Fabio back in the projection booth, made sure all was ready.
Associate Producer Janelle Saffin then spoke briefly before we began the film. Janelle passed on the greetings of her fellow Associate Producer Ines de Almeida, the initiator of the film, who had returned to Dili following the premiere screening in Parliament House Canberra last week.
Janelle pointed out that the boundary was only a matter of time since the position to 'not negotiate' was no longer a bipartisan position in Canberra. She said that the news coming out of the Conciliation Commission recently should add to the momentum for a change in the position of the Coalition Government.
A long and loud round of applause from the crowd as the credits rolled and then a quick wrap up to end the night. I mentioned the 'people power' in the room, our ability to keep up the pressure, the effectiveness of raising the issue with local members of parliament and the way people could stay in the loop using the web and social media.
As people left many picked up their free copy of the Policy Paper produced by the Maritime Boundary Office of the Government of Timor-Leste - a very readable and straight forward presentation of what the Timorese are seeking and why. This is available for download on our Resources page.