Thanks to João Paulo Esperança who drew my attention to a unique window into Timorese life, post 1999. The film “Sirana,” he suggests, is the first Timorese feature film. The protagonist is a young woman who is caught between a number of worlds in Dili. The film deals with gender relations, domestic violence, teenage angst, class divides in Dili, the impact of the international presence, and language.

There is a side plot honoring Rosa Muki Bonaparte, one of the founders of the OPMT who was martyred by the Indonesians on the day of the invasion of Dili [correction: day after]. A link is made between the struggles of early Fretilin activism for womens rights and the continued problems with domestic violence and patriarchy in independent Timor. I have to confess, I find it very moving to see Timorese people present their stories in film.

Directed by Ivete de Oliveira, the film is in the style of improvised, documentary style and the soundtrack is really memorable with Bibi Bulak and the new Cinco do Oriente. The sound is a little difficult at times, and I have trouble following all of the life-like, fast conversation in Tetum. Sirana appears to have had support from CARITAS, CIIR (now Progressio), Fokupers, Sahe Institute and Bibi Bulak among others. I hope this is just a taste of things to come after the Youtube revolution!


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