Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday things

3CR Tuesday Breakfast Show

  • played my interview with Maureen Tolfree about her brother, Brian Peters - one of the Balibo Five. Brian Peters was a Channel Nine cameraman who went to East Timor in 1975 to report on the Indonesian invasion with Nine reporter Malcolm Rennie. They were killed by Indonesian troops on October 16, 1975 in the town of Balibo along with the Channel Seven news team of Greg Shackleton, Tony Stewart and Gary Cunningham. A new film, Balibo, tells the story of what happened to them and to another Australian journalist, Roger East, who went to East Timor to investigate their deaths before the Indonesian invasion in December 1975. Balibo is screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival, and to national audiences from August 13.
  • Steph was joined in the studio by Martin Baldock from Equal Love, to talk about the campaign and the national day of action this Saturday August 1, with the rally beginning at 1pm at Federation Square.
  • played an interview by Bree McKilligan from 3CR's Jump Cut with Melbourne filmmaker Kerry Negara about her documentary A Loving Friend, which looks at the response of the Australian art world to artist Donald Friend's self-avowed sexual relations with young boys in Bali. A Loving Friend screens at the Melbourne International Film Festival on Sunday August 2 at 2pm at Greater Union.
The Magnetic Fields - When My Boy Walks Down the Street - 69 Love Songs, Vol. 2

LISTENING Tuesday July 21-Tuesday July 28.
Last.fm says this week was spent in the company of:
The Whitest Boy Alive, Dreams and Rules
Miike Snow, Miike Snow
Bachelorette, Isolation Loops

Monday, July 27, 2009

Recent days

Thursday 23 July
I went in to 3CR to meet Maureen Tolfree for an interview about her brother - Brian Peters (of the Balibo Five) - and about the film, Balibo. I'll play the interview on tomorrow's Tuesday Breakfast Show, and probably on my next Women On The Line. Anyway, I stayed at 3CR editing that until it was 3pm, when I went to a meeting about the 2010 Seeds of Dissent Calendar, then I went to the Trades Hall to record a talk by Carol Adams on The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory. It featured a slideshow of all these meat advertising images she's found or been sent by readers, and it was pretty fascinating.

Friday 24 July
Worked at CASA House, then met up with Guy, Leah and Amy for drinks/dinner. As Guy walked with me to the train station, I confessed the real extent of my humiliating Twilight film habit - "Ummmm, sometimes, I even put it on in the background while I'm doing other things, like the other day I was researching interviews..." - and it made him consider watching it. I went home and fell asleep watching it.

Saturday 25 July
I couldn't resist any longer - I got the Twilight book. It has had an absurdly powerful effect on me. I spent Saturday reading it, chortling with glee, and hugging it to my chest when overcome by the pleasure of it. It was an entirely enjoyable experience. Seriously, you guys.

Sunday 26 July
Woke early to continue reading Twilight. Then at 11am went to the Forum MIFF office to pick up our Mini Passes. Then had some time to kill before our first film, so went to the ACMI Lounge to drink coffee and read more Twilight - with some scrap paper deliberately placed over the front cover to hide its identity. It shames me that I feel shame about reading it, because it doesn't deserve such cowardice. Frankly. it's MARVELLOUS.

12.15pm: saw our first MIFF film, The Milk Of Sorrow. I recommend it. It's about living in crippling fear of rape, but it's tone is not at all harrowing. Yes, the placement of a certain potato made my uterus pang so I squirmed in my seat throughout the film and for sometime after. But mostly it's just kinda beautiful, with oddly lovely songs.

After the film we went and ate some eggs in Degraves Street, where I kept secretly reading Twilight while my little brother openly read Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You - I think this made him feel cooler than me. Which I wouldn't normally mind - he does look way cooler than me, probably is - but dude, it's my copy of the Miranda July. Anyway, then we went to Dymocks so I could buy the remaining three books of the Twilight series. I also bought China Miéville's Perdido Street Station, because I'm seeing him at the Melbourne Writers Festival and I haven't read a thing. Also, I had a general sense that buying a China Miéville book alongside books 2, 3 & 4 of the Twilight series might make me seem less ridiculous?

We still had some time before my next film - Simon wasn't coming to it as our MIFF schedules differ this year. I see this as growth. Anyway, so we popped in to the Len Lye exhibition at ACMI. And I think I'll pop back in to it rather frequently as MIFF continues. It's a nice way to spend time - watching Colour Flight or waiting for one of the metal kinetic sculptures to come alive and cause delight. And it's free.

Anyway, it still wasn't 4.45pm - when I was due to go see Treeless Mountain - so we went back to the ACMI Lounge so I could finish the first Twilight book. Which I did. And, as I'd spent the last day smiling and sighing, my brother finally ventured to ask, "What's so great about it, anyway? Like, is it better than Harry Potter?"And I said something about how it was different - it's not so much about big themes of decency responding to fear and hatred in a society with the whole world at stake, it's more about feelings and caring about characters and enjoying how they care about others - like, it's their emotional world that's at stake. Also, there are vampires. He might still read it, I guess.

Treeless Mountain had sweet kids in it, and sometimes they were sad. Basically, it's a film about two young girls waiting for their mum to come back, and how they spend their time. I liked it, but it dragged a little, too.

Went home and started reading New Moon, the second book in the Twilight series. It got a little embarrassing really, what with me sitting on the couch in the living room in full view of my family, becoming shakily devastated. Fell asleep with the book on my chest.

Monday 27 July
Woke early - 5.45am - so I could fit in more New Moon reading before heading to work at CASA House. Had to relent for showering and dressing, but I got a lift in, so was able to continue reading until I stepped out onto Lonsdale Street. As I waited for my coffee, I caught myself smiling inwardly and radiating contentment. This is sad, isn't it.

Anyway, tonight I'm seeing Guest Of Cindy Sherman.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Complete MIFF Schedule

There have been some changes and additions (and there could always be more additions) but as far as I know my Melbourne International Film Festival this year looks like this:

Sunday 26 July:
The Milk Of Sorrow
Treeless Mountain

Monday 27 July:
Guest Of Cindy Sherman

Tuesday 28 July:
The Girlfriend Experience

Wednesday 29 July:
Fish Tank

Thursday 30 July:
United Red Army

Friday 31 July:
The Exploding Girl

Saturday 1 August:
A Lake

Monday 3 August:
Katalin Varga

Tuesday 4 August:
The White Ribbon

Wednesday 5 August:

Thursday 6 August:

Friday 7 August:
The Art of Failure: Chuck Connelly Not for Sale

Sunday 9 August:

Anyway, here's something I found out this morning - if you go to the MIFF website, and you leave the page idle for a little while, this hack message about Rebiya Kadeer comes up:

Click on the image if you want to get a better look.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I am not supposed to be a teenage girl, but

... I must confess to a few things I did this week that made me wonder about my level of adult sophistication.

1. Last Wednesday night, I went with my family to the Westgarth Cinema to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. On its opening day. As is tradition in my family. Yes, I am still doing this. Largely because I want to. Clearly, I am not a grown-up yet. Also, I LOVED it. I thought it was GREAT. In the past I have always left a Harry Potter screening raking over the niggling disappointments I found in the film, but I had zero criticisms for this one. So it seems that as I get older, I have less critical responses to a children's film about a boy wizard (although obviously, Harry Potter's not really even about wizarding or magic or whatever - it's about confronting the rise of fascism...) <-- see I still say stuff like that! Anyway, as soon as we got home from the film, my brother started re-reading the final two books, and I was jealous of him. I sat reading my book, Ben Lewis' Hammer and Tickle: A History Of Communism Told Through Communist Jokes, while looking frequently over at him, asking him where he was up to and so forth. Then I finished that book and started my next one, Nick Davies' Flat Earth News, all the while still peering over my brother's shoulder at irritating intervals. He eventually went to his room and didn't come out. Anyway, this morning I exercised some restraint - I decided to stay here at 3CR doing volunteer reception instead of bunking off to go into the city to meet my brother and watch the Half-Blood Prince again. In response he decided that since I wasn't going to meet him, he might as well go and re-enrol in uni - just, you know, as an afterthought. As if having a future is what you settle for when movie plans fall through. Uh, we are so mature.

2. In the past week, I have watched Twilight, like, seven times. Probably more. And it's not like I've had a lot of spare time this week. I made time for Twilight. With disturbing frequency. And I can't really explain why I like to watch it so much, why I want to watch it so much, why I wish I was at home right now so I could watch it again. And dudes, I already watched it today - very early this morning before heading in to 3CR to do the Breakfast Show. What is the matter with me? Could somebody rational please tell me that Twilight is actually, like, good? Because I'm beginning to think so, and I'm at the point where I don't think I'm wrong.

Other things last week:

On Tuesday, after finishing up my day at 3CR, I went to the 3CR Promotions Sub-Committee meeting at Peko Peko, where Nicole and I swapped some TV. I gave her all my True Blood, plus season 3 of Big Love, and season 5 of The Wire, and she gave me Breaking Bad and Nurse Jackie. I haven't watched Breaking Bad yet, but I have watched Nurse Jackie and I LOVE IT. It contains a rather excellent cat joke, and Peter Facinelli doing robot laser 'pew-pews'. Recommend.

After the meeting I went back in to 3CR overnight to produce the Stick Together show, featuring the interview I did with Jeff Sparrow about Killing: Misadventures in Violence. It sounds like this. I got home at about 4am, watched Twilight, then slept for the rest of Wednesday until the aforementioned Harry Potter outing at 6pm.

On Thursday I stayed overnight at 3CR again, producing Women On The Line, featuring my interview with Malalai Joya. It sounds like this.

After the all-nighter, on Friday I worked at CASA. And then spent the weekend just, you know, reading books and watching Twilight. I think what I like about it is that the people in it are friendly, low-key, and prone to declarations of undying love.

Tuesday things

3CR Tuesday Breakfast Show
  • played my interview, in two parts, with Malalai Joya, Afghanistan democracy and women's rights campaigner. She was in Melbourne last week to talk about the state of democracy in Afghanistan and her new memoir, Raising My Voice. You can support Malalai Joya's work and contribute to her safety by making a donation to the Defense Committee for Malalai Joya.
  • played my interview, in two parts, with Jeff Sparrow, author of Killing: Misadventures in Violence, about going to abbatoirs, death row and on kangaroo hunts where killing is part of the everyday, to see if these places could provide some insight into the experience and impacts of killing in combat zones.
  • Steph spoke to Michelle Carey, curator of the Post-Punk Underground program of the Melbourne International Film Festival.
The Mayfair Set - Dark House - Young One

LISTENING Tuesday July 14-Tuesday July 21.
Last.fm says this week was spent in the company of:
Yoko Ono & The Plastic Ono Band, Between My Head And The Sky
Joakim, Milky Ways
The Clean, Mister Pop
Low, I Could Live In Hope and Long Division
and The Curtain Hits The Cast
Mount Eerie, Wind's Poem
Kes Band, Kes Band II
Camille Deane, Up Here
The Mayfair Set, Young One
Jay Reatard, Watch Me Fall
Deastro, Moondagger
Noah and the Whale, The First Days Of Spring
Deerhunter, Rainwater Cassette Exchange
Grand Salvo, Soil Creatures

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday things

3CR Tuesday Breakfast Show
  • Steph spoke to Fleur Watson, curator of the State of Design festival.
  • heard Steph's interview with Peter Stewart from Bundanoon about his town's decision to ban the sale of one-use bottled water.
  • I spoke to Rachel Maher for the monthly New Matilda update, today focussing on recent articles about media issues within China and Sri Lanka.
Kes Band - Amelia Airheart - Kes Band II
Aleks and the Ramps - Whiplash - Midnight Believer
The Mayfair Set - Let it Melt - Young One
The Bats - Like Water In Your Hands - The Guilty Office
Wreckless Eric - Excuse Me - Greatest Stiffs
CocoRosie - Joseph City - Coconuts, Plenty of Junk Food

LISTENING Tuesday July 7-Tuesday July 14.
Last.fm says this week was spent in the company of:
Beach House, Beach House, Devotion and Used To Be
Various, New Weird Australia Volume One
Mount Eerie, Wind's Poem
Kes Band, Kes Band II
Camille Deane, Up Here
The Mayfair Set, Young One

Later in the day I interviewed Jeff Sparrow over the phone about his new book, Killing: Misadventures in Violence, for this week's Stick Together.
And then Malalai Joya came in to 3CR and I interviewed her for this week's Women On The Line. She gave me a hug. It made me think I need to start a list...
List of People With Whom I Am Proud To Have Had Actual Physical Contact
(I swear, I shook their hands at least):

Catharine MacKinnon
Ali Abunimah
Malalai Joya

...Uh, I can't think of any others just at the moment.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

MIFF Mini Pass

I bought my Film Festival Mini Pass and filled it up with this:
Sunday 26 July:
Treeless Mountain

Monday 27 July:
Guest Of Cindy Sherman

Tuesday 28 July:
The Girlfriend Experience

Wednesday 29 July:
Fish Tank

Thursday 30 July:
United Red Army
Petition - The Court Of The Complainants

Monday 3 August:
Red Army/PFLP: Declaration Of War

Tuesday 4 August:
The White Ribbon

Wednesday 5 August:

Thursday 6 August:

Sunday 9 August:

Other things I might buy tickets to. Please let me know if I shouldn't:

All Tomorrow's Parties
Double Take
Unmade Beds
Everyone Else

Some things I've already seen, that you might like to also:
Looking For Eric
In The Loop

One note of disappointment:
I was really looking forward to seeing Spring Fever as part of the festival program, because I read a positive thing about it in The Observer during Cannes. But it is not. Please, WHY IS IT NOT?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Tuesday things

At about 4am this morning, I finished watching season 4 of The Wire. Then I pottered about until it was time to go in to 3CR.

3CR Tuesday Breakfast Show
It's NAIDOC Week, which 3CR marks by doing live prison broadcasts with Indigenous men and women from inside four Victorian jails. So on Breakfast we did this:
  • Rachel spoke with Phil Maguire, Chief Executive of the UK Prison Radio Association, about establishing radio stations inside British prisons, making award-winning radio by and for prisoners.
  • Steph spoke to Lachie Type about the Students of Sustainability conference this week.
  • I spoke to Amy McQuire from the National Indigenous Times about the over-representation of Indigenous prisoners in Australian jails.
Dirty Projectors and David Byrne - Knotty Pine - Dark Was The Night
Miike Snow - Animal - Miike Snow
Beach House - Used To Be - Used To Be 7"
Lawrence Arabia - The Undesirables - Chant Darling
Grand Salvo - Brother - Soil Creatures
Lykke Li - Time Flies - Youth Novel

LISTENING Tuesday June 30-Tuesday July 7.
Last.fm says this week was spent in the company of:
Tenniscoats, Temporacha, Totemo Aimasho and Live Wanderus
Peter Broderick, Music For On Paper Wings
Vivian Girls, Vivian Girls
Palms, It's Midnight in Honolulu
and some Phil Collins and PJ Harvey & John Parish

Saturday, July 04, 2009

This Is Not The Trip


I do plan to bore you mercilessly in the coming while with detailed posts about each city I went to in ten weeks of travelling. But not just yet.

I've been back in Melbourne for three weeks now, and you will hear about that first.

P.S. There was a lot of saved TV to get through, as you'll notice.

Sunday 14 June

Monday 15 June
Back to work, my rostered shift at CASA House. In the evening, my sister arrived from Hobart to spend two weeks with us while she did some additional forecasting training (she's a meteorolgist, a forecaster at the Bureau of Meteorolgy), so we had family/travel chats. Then downloaded the new episode of True Blood. Watched it.

Tuesday 16 June
3CR Tuesday Breakfast Show

  • Rachel spoke to Vicki Fairfax and Jayne Lovelock about the Emerge Festival, celebrating Melbourne's multicultural diversity as part of Refugee Week. Vicki spoke about the Love Burma Love Freedom exhibition.
  • Steph spoke with Joe Lorback, activist with the Melbourne Anti-Intervention Action Collective about the latest on the intervention and the 2 year anniversary rally on 20 June.
  • Jess spoke with Andrew Scott, academic and author of Politics, Parties and Issues in Australia.
  • I spoke with Dr Caroline de Costa about charges being laid in Queensland against a woman and her boyfriend for 'procuring an abortion' using misoprostol. Caroline is an obstetrician based in Cairns and was one of the first doctors there to get the right to dispense medical abortion drugs. We didn't talk directly about the case, but focused on some of the issues it raises for abortion law reform in Queensland (see her previous Crikey article about law reform here), and the ongoing 'controversial' context in which medical abortion appears on the public radar in Australia.
Shugo Tokumaru - Rum Hee - Rum Hee
Tenniscoats - Rolling Train - Tan-Tan Therapy

Spent the rest of the day at 3CR planning that week's Stick Together show, reading up on the proposed Building Inspectorate, begging unionists to talk to me in the midst of tizz about introduction of the legislation in parliament the next day. Went home to catch up on Dollhouse. It's still really good, you guys.

Wednesday 17 June
At 12.30pm, interviewed Dave Noonan, National Secretary of the CFMEU Construction Division. Cobbled rest of Stick Together show around that. Finished with an hour to spare before the 6pm Community Radio Network broadcast. The synopsis went like this:
On today’s show, we get reaction to the Rudd Government’s tabling in Parliament of draft laws for a Building Industry Inspectorate to replace the Australian Building and Construction Commission. The ABCC’s coercive powers over construction workers will be retained, and we hear from Dave Noonan, National Secretary of the CFMEU Construction Division. Before that, we hear from the author of a new book looking at the union and community campaign that brought the Rudd Government into office. Kathie Muir has written the first history of the campaign, and her book is called, Worth Fighting For: Inside the Your Rights At Work Campaign.
The podcast went like this.

Thursday 18 June
Worked at CASA during the day. In the evening, went to the Corner Hotel to see Deerhunter. They looked much younger than I expected. (I suppose being ignorant of their - to my mind - extreme youth probably means I should read more music articles. But I was really struck by it. I had just assumed from listening to their music that they were, you know, mature. But they were quite endearingly not.) Google has since informed me that Bradford Cox is only one year younger than me... but he's just a kid! Anyway, it was their second Melbourne gig, and they were set loose from usual performance boundaries because an organiser had gamely told them to 'do whatever you want'. So it started pretty tight - they knew their stuff backwards and it still burst with vigour - got progressively looser as the night went on, almost broke apart, got adorably hilarious. This review acquaints you with how things proceeded. Somehow, it wasn't obnoxious at all. It was delightful. I can't remember precisely all the stage-talk that made me smile, but it really did. One bit I remember happened after Bradford Cox had been by himself doing Don't Fear The Reaper for ten minutes or so, had tired of it and so had stopped, then became uncomfortable with being on stage all alone. He went almost shyly to the microphone: "Please, come back out here, you guys."

Friday 19 June
Worked at CASA in the morning, then went to 3CR to get briefed about some radio training I'd deliver to Collingwood College students the following Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Met Leah and Guy for coffee, as Leah was about to fly away travelling. Went home to watch Silent Witness. Then Caprica.

Saturday 20 June

Damages Season 2. Then, Guy's Alcopops-themed birthday party. I chatted with Lauren's boyfriend Ben about Caprica, Battlestar Galactica, etc. Other people had conversations about Lady GaGa. I don't take part in these discussions yet, as I still haven't listened to any of her music. There are some foolish quotes out there, though. So I haven't yet moved beyond Guy's assessment that "she doesn't quite understand the concepts she's playing with", but it appears he may have. Anyway, at around 1am, the dancefloor kicked off, which was my cue to flee, as all my non-dancing, always-find-me-in-the-kitchen-at-parties type friends are currently overseas. COME BACK.

Sunday 21 June
We all went with my sister to Mordialloc to visit our grandma. On the way home, my brother and I got ourselves dropped off in the city to go see a film. We saw I Love You, Man. It was as you'd expect, as in, quite okay, as in, hey, I like to run with that post-Freaks and Geeks set and so does Terry Gross from NPR's Fresh Air and that relaxes me about enjoying it. When it was over, we decided to see Star Trek. Which was AWESOME. Well, it was.

Monday 22 June
Day 1 of delivering radio training to Collingwood College middle school students. I know they thought I was lame. They were astute in that way. Went home to watch more of Damages Season 2.

Tuesday 23 June
3CR Tuesday Breakfast Show
  • Rachel's interview with Azadeh, an Iranian theatre studies graduate and law reform campaigner in Tehran with the One Million Signatures campaign, about how the group is using street theatre as a way of highlighting injustices in Iranian law.
  • I spoke to Lyn Morgain from the ALSO Foundation about the Rural Forum on issues for GLBTIQ people in rural settings.
  • Steph spoke to Dr Shiv Chopra, a Health Canada whistleblower, about the food saftey issues raised in his book Corrupt to the Core. He would speak that night at the Green Building, 60 Leicester Street, Carlton.
  • Steph spoke to Rachel from The Share Hood, a neighbourhood resource sharing initiative and workshop.
Bachelorette - The National Grid - My Electric Family
Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks - Veckatimest
Aleks and the Ramps - Destroy The Universe With Jazz Hands - Midnight Believer

LISTENING Tuesday June 16-Tuesday June 23.
Last.fm says this week was spent in the company of:
Aleks and the Ramps, Midnight Believer
CocoRosie, Coconuts, Plenty of Junk Food
Bachelorette, My Electric Family
Matteah Baim, The Laughing Boy
and some The Mayfair Set and Get Back Guinozzi !

The rest of Tuesday was spent training kids in radio. Then burritos with Guy? I think so.

Wednesday 24 June
Final day of training Collingwood College kids in radio. We had them out on Smith Street interviewing John Clarke and other local folk. And they got their podcasts edited and finished in time, which had been a worry. Farewell, young people.

Thursday 25 June
Worked at CASA, then met with Guy and Lauren for long enough to witness the handover of Lauren's birthday present to Guy... A SLANKET. I only learned of the existence of these/the excitement they cause, when I got back to Melbourne and saw the late-night TV ad. In response to which I thought, "Hmm, my uppers arms DO get cold when I'm attempting to read under the doona... but perhaps this points to me being more of a Doona Suit than a Slanket kind of girl?" I've since looked at the Doona Suit, though, and it is NOT what I thought it would be. It's not even all-in-one! FAIL. Anyway, at the time I still didn't fully appreciate the Slanket's cultural significance, and so was not perhaps enthusiastic enough with my 'ooooh, beige' as Lauren presented it to Guy:
But then I caught up with 30 Rock. In which a Slanket features in a joke that made me laugh so much, I threw up. (This outcome was doubly pleasing to me as, in a previous 30 Rock episode, retaining the capacity to laugh so hard you throw up had been underlined as desirable.) Anyway, it took me fully twenty minutes to regain composure from the laughing fit, and twenty further minutes to recover from my spluttering, out-of-control attempts to repeat the line in question out loud to my brother. Impossible, it turns out.

Now, I don't want to ruin the immense joy of this one sentence for anyone. But I'm going to type it anyway. Because, COME ON. It made me throw up:
"Lemon, isn't there a Slanket somewhere you should be filling with your farts?"
Aaah, I like it when people understand couch.

Anyway, it's still Thursday, so after I left Lauren and Guy, I made my way to Carlton to meet Nicole and Bree for the preview screening of Balibo. Director Robert Connolly introduced the film, and talked about having just returned from Dili where it was screened for the cast and crew there. He said it had been strange to screen a film in which the current President of East Timor is depicted as a charismatic 25-year-old rebel leader, especially when José Ramos-Horta was also in the audience for the Dili screening. Connolly related how people cheered at some of Ramos-Horta's scenes, including Ramos-Horta. Now, I had no idea of Ramos-Horta's part in the Balibo story. Perhaps it is something I should have known. The film is based on Jill Jolliffe's book, and as the film's opening credits notified me of this, I felt bad that I hadn't read it. We've had her on the Breakfast Show a few times to talk about modern East Timor (the assassination attempt on Ramos-Horta for example) and I always feel guilty when I don't pay enough attention to the work guests have done. Actually, I think we had her on for the Balibo inquest and the Living Memory Project too. Damn! Anyway, it looks like a revised edition of the book is coming out, with a launch at Readings on August 13.

Getting back to the film itself, it begins with an East-Timorese woman, Juliana, travelling to Dili to give evidence at the Commission For Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor. Just FYI, this commission's findings and its cases for prosecution were massively undermined by the subsequent setting up of the Indonesia-Timor Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship. The latter's galling shortcomings are outlined in an open letter here, and in this report, Too Much Friendship, Too Little Truth. But anyway, I was watching a film. And I was hoping the commission being depicted in these early scenes was the first one (it was, according to the Balibo press kit). Anyway, Juliana speaks to the investigator about the massacre she witnessed as a child on the Dili Wharf on the day in 1975 when the Indonesian army invaded the city. She recalls seeing a man on the wharf, Roger East, who had been staying at her father's hotel. So the film takes us to Darwin earlier in 1975, where we meet Anthony LaPaglia's Roger East. He goes fishing, drinks beer, and goes to work where he's told that a young man in green fatigues has been waiting to see him since before the office opened.
Roger East: "Who is he?"
Co-worker: "He says his name is José Ramos-Horta."
Roger East: "Who?"
As you can guess, this lack of recognition gets a rather shocked laugh from the audience, and neatly communicates that we will be journeying through substantially different times.

As Ramos-Horta, Oscar Isaac is, as aforementioned, disarmingly charismatic. He's turned away at the office but finds East later on the pier eating fish and chips. You are won over by Ramos-Horta pretty easily in this fish and chip scene, and maybe I won't detail it because, you know, it's pleasurable. You might want to see it. Basically, he wants Roger East - a former foreign correspondent - to come to Dili to run the East Timor News Agency, and he needs a quick decision as flights out of Darwin to Dili are likely to be stopped in the next few days, what with the Indonesians advancing and all. Anyway, they talk, disagree and so forth. East thinks Ramos-Horta should be looking for a younger journalist, not someone who is 'past it' like him. Ramos-Horta says they've had younger journalists from Australia in East Timor already. Five in particular. They'd disappeared four weeks earlier and the Australian Government didn't seem to care much, etc. East does some digging, his interest piqued, and agrees to go to Dili if Ramos-Horta will get him full access to investigate the fate of the Balibo Five. The film flashes between East's journey to East Timor and that of the Balibo Five, and we're off. There is annoying stuff at the Dili hotel run by Juliana's father, bonding between the Australians and the child Juliana, pfft, but the film does well in mapping the various motivations the journalists had for being there - with Channel 7's team (Greg Shackleton, Gary Cunningham, Tony Stewart) arriving first, pursued by Channel 9's Malcolm Rennie and Brian Peters who are playing catch-up after an incensed Kerry Packer sends them in to prevent a Channel 7 exclusive on the invasion. They are confoundingly oblivious and self-involved to begin with - seeming not to register that what's happening might matter a fair bit to the people it's happening to - but eventually pay enough attention to the seriousness of what is going on. An example of this 'growth' comes when Shackleton's team reaches a Falintil garrison near the Indonesian front line. The garrison leader suggests that maybe they shouldn't dally as things there are tense. To which the Shackleton character replies, "Great. That's what we're after." I was like, DUDE, things being 'tense' means people could die. You're intruding into a precarious situation and taking up the time of the small number of guys who are all that stand beween a fledgling nation and the Indonesian Army, and they need to be ready to fight if things kick off. Check yourself... MATE. However, bombs raining down on them and a night spent sheltering with East Timorese villagers seems to open their eyes to the bleeding obvious, ie. the Indonesians are invading, people will be killed, all hopes of an independent East Timor dashed, and the international community is doing nothing about it. They are moved. It is so white. I mean, it's fine that they are moved, it's to be expected. It just made me squirm a bit - like, oh right, so now that they've discovered they have feelings about injustice, their feelings matter and should go on record in a piece to camera. I mean, I suppose that was good, really. And on the whole I think the film does well with such discomfiting aspects - yes, they behave very whitely and it took them a while to get it, and while we see that there are better informed and directly affected people who should be the voices we listen to on this story, the privileged weight that Australian reporting would carry is what we're stuck with. The film smoothes our hackles on this point. And eventually both news teams work together towards the aim of documenting the invasion itself as "proof of a violation".

Similar discomfiting moments arise in the parallel story of Roger East's pursuit of the truth about the Balibo Five. He, accompanied by Ramos-Horta, is pursuing a story about the fate of five white guys while the Indonesian army advances towards Dili. Sidenote: it's kind of amazing to see that it took actual walking through rural wilderness behind enemy lines for 14 hours to get to the site of the story. The thing is, at one point they literally walk through a landscape scattered with East Timorese corpses. So, why are they not the story? How is the Balibo Five's story more important than theirs? It's a constant question. And one that leads to a breaking point between Roger East and José Ramos-Horta. They brawl in the swimming pool of an abandoned church mission school, with East nearly drowning Ramos-Horta and memorably calling him a little shit. He calls José Ramos-Horta a little shit! Again, different times. Roger East's position is that getting to the bottom of the Balibo Five story is the only way what's happening to East Timor is going to matter internationally. As an answer to the film's constant question, it's maybe not enough. I don't think we as viewers should be satisfied with it, even if the film doesn't really move beyond it. But more on that later. So Roger East continues his trek and reaches Balibo, and we flash between what he finds, and what happened on the day the Balibo Five were killed. These scenes are dealt with excellently, and we watched them with horror. The principle point is that the Balibo Five were not collateral damage in the confusion of battle. They were trapped. They identified themselves as journalists from Australia, and were then murdered. And what they daringly filmed - which I have decided to hope was really what they managed to capture on film - was burnt with their bodies.

Returning to Dili - after a classic crappy bit where the local brown person draws fire away from the white person so that he can escape - Roger East sets about staring into his fish dinner and being sad. Until José Ramos-Horta comes by with witnesses to the Balibo killings who've come forward after hearing of East's quest. Not to deliver everything your news story needs on a platter or anything, Roger, but maybe you could take a break from your feelings and interview the witnesses (sorry about the snarking - it's just weird how frequently the film makes its central heroic Australian characters so very very annoying. Get a grip! You are not dealing with nearly as much stuff!). The interviews are done, and it's critically important that they happened at all - and that East filed the story - because the invasion of Dili is upon them, so we get to the scenes on Dili Wharf that Juliana was recounting to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission at the beginning of the film. We see the Dili Wharf massacre, and what happens to Roger East, and I have to say, the way it's done is LAME. Awkward visual metaphors involving fish and his repeated declarations that "I'm Australian". But why does that matter? Look around. What about everybody else? The final scene has Juliana in tears after recounting the horrors she saw, and the investigator saying a line that clanged for me as pretty insensitive scripting. He said, "Roger East was a very generous man, wasn't he?" And I was like, well, yeah. Credit him, of course. He did well. But she's talking about a day on which her dad died, a lot of people died, and to make a point that Roger East generously gave of himself... it felt odd. And then the investigator asks if Juliana can come back tomorrow to give more testimony, and she says she has decades worth of stories to tell, this was just one. But, you know, we won't be in the cinema to hear about any of the others.

So, the film ended on a note that made me bristle a bit, but I think it was mostly good. Before the end credits, we get an overview of José Ramos-Horta's time in exile as an advocate for East Timor, and the cheering crowds when he returned. And it's best to end there, I suppose, before we get to uncomfortable compromises post-independence, and so forth. A few names jumped out at me as the credits rolled. One was Alex Tilman, an East Timorese activist and actor who was in the ABC series, Answered By Fire. I saw him speak in 2006 at a forum with Vannessa Hearman, when he was a representative for Fretilin in Australia. In Balibo, he's listed as playing a Falintil driver or something, and I admit I didn't notice him when I watched the film. Another name was Jose Belo, who is listed as having played the camera operator recording Juliana's commission testimony. If it's the Jose Belo I'm thinking of, he's the editor of Tempo Semanal, an independent newspaper in East Timor. I thought it good that such an important figure in East Timorese journalism should be part of a film about Australian journalism and East Timor. And then I thought, hold on, how important do you have to be - and how much time do you have to spend as the man who gets Australian journalists up to speed on East Timor - for there to be more than a tiny part in a film about your country? And then I thought, hold on, isn't Jose Belo facing jail for criminal defamation as alleged by East Timor's Justice Minister? Where is President Ramos-Horta on that, I wondered. Thankfully, Ramos-Horta has made public statements against the defamation charges. So, phew. Not awkward for running into each other at film premieres and such.

That's pretty much all the thoughts I had about Balibo. Bree thought its style was 'too Hollywood'. I didn't really get to pursue with her what she meant by that, but I think it had something to do with the film's weakest moments, which were: 1) the kneeling over a dead body and screaming "NOOOOOOO", 2) the aforementioned problems with the Roger "I'm Australian" East wharf scene, with that whole mess about fish swimming upstream and a stretch for poetic meaning. But disregarding those, it's pretty good. Anyway, it's the opening night film at MIFF this year.

Friday 26 June
Worked at CASA. Didn't go to Mum Smokes as I'd intended. Just stayed home and watched Silent Witness (the one where they went to Zambia. Which was very shit. Silent Witness shouldn't be shit.)

Saturday 27 June
Didn't go to CastleTones as I'd intended. Watched Willow. It wasn't as good as I remembered. In fact, it wasn't good at all. I thought all the heroic red-head casting by Ron Howard was a nice touch, though. Then watched The Bad News Bears (the original). I had fond memories of this film, with kids smoking and cussing and whatnot. But there wasn't as much of that as I thought. Finally, watched Synecdoche, New York. Aaah, good. What a relief, I liked it very much. Charlie Kaufman makes good thingy.

Sunday 28 June
We decided to begin a dangerous course of action today. The Wire.

Monday 29 June
Felt sick, so didn't go into work. Ethernet cable broke, so didn't organise guests for the next morning's Breakfast Show. Just stayed in bed watching The Forsyte Saga (2002 version). Then it was time for more of The Wire. Just as I feared, it turns out I love The Wire too unhealthily. So I didn't get a lot of sleep before I went in to 3CR on Tuesday morning. Everybody, SHUT UP ABOUT IT. DO NOT TELL ME ANYTHING.

Tuesday 30 June
3CR Tuesday Breakfast Show
All my fellow co-hosts were away, so I did the show by myself. Lack of internet on Monday meant I didn't get interviews, so rebroadcast old recordings.
  • heard again the speech by Rachel Johnson from the International Solidarity Movement about what she saw in Gaza after Operation Cast Lead. Replayed in light of the Red Cross report into the humanitarian situation in Gaza 6 months on.
  • heard again the speech by Jeff Halper, coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions - an organisation that works to stop the destruction of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank. Replayed in light of Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak's visit to the US to present his 'settlement freeze' plan.
  • heard again from Antony Loewenstein, author of Blogging Revolution, speaking about what he found when researching his book about the power and limitations of web-based dissent. Replayed because he talked about Iran/web stuff.
  • played Rachel's interview about sea piracy in Somalia, with Dr Carolin Liss, a researcher at the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University in Perth, who completed a PhD on piracy.
Grand Salvo - Needles - Soil Creatures
Dirty Projectors - Cannibal Resources - Bitte Orca
Miike Snow - Animal - Miike Snow

LISTENING Tuesday June 23-Tuesday June 30.
Last.fm says this week was spent in the company of:
Dirty Projectors, Bitte Orca
Deerhunter, Microcastle
Grand Salvo, Soil Creatures
Miike Snow, Miike Snow
and some The Bats and Tahiti Boy & The Palmtree Family

The rest of the week is mostly The Wire, a few meetings at 3CR, and more of The Wire. Yep, unhealthy.