The Diplomat

"Very Good"

The Diplomat Review


The Australian documentary The Diplomat gives a nearly complete overview of the situation in East Timor up to its August 1999 elections. It starts with the historical background of this small island's tribulations: Since the 16th century until 1975, the island was a Portuguese colony. Then, with the end of the Portuguese revolution, East Timor declared its independence and was immediately invaded by Indonesia, its giant neighbor.

The focus of the film is José Ramos Horta, a political activist who represents the Eastern Timorese Resistance historic leader, Xanana Gusmao, who was imprisoned in Indonesia for a 20-year sentence. Horta is a 1996 Nobel Prize winner who has been fighting for the independence of this little-known island for 24 years.

The most compelling aspect of the film is its ability to convey how the tragic events of East Timor and its desperate struggle for independence have been largely ignored by the world. Since East Timor has no army to support its claims for autonomy, Horta says it must have been an act of God that his people had survived.

Horta's life is that of a peripatetic fighter who is exiled from the country the independence of which is his life mission. The challenge of Horta's mission is accentuated by the fact that there is no unity among the leaders of East Timor; some of them are satisfied by living in a country annexed to its oppressors, others are adamant to fight for complete independence till the end. The film follows Horta, almost always dog-tired, from one conference on the East Timorese crisis to another and intersperses Horta's diplomatic career with footage of hot events happening in East Timor: President Suharto resigns, Habibie takes his place, nothing changes. Indonesia itself has enough to worry about and when its economic crisis reaches the bottom of the barrel, Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas is sent to deliver to the world promises of security and protection for East Timor.

While Horta's mother, Natalina, recollects how Indonesian militia attacked her residence and took the lives of her children, the actual footage testifies the acts of barbaric genocide that took place on the island. The film hits all the appropriate strings by conveying how murder, torture, rape, all kinds of physical, sexual, and psychological violations have been the daily life of the people of East Timor. It clearly exemplifies the frightening hypocrisy of the Indonesian government which declares the crisis stable while more and more people are being brutally executed.

Unfortunately, up until the depiction of the 1999 democratic election in East Timor, the film more or less plods along. It is only then that the film picks up the pace by showing that just four hours after the official announcement, the defeated militia gangs start to set East Timor on fire. There is a moment of almost sublime irony when President Bill Clinton visits Indonesia with the intention to stop the genocide and bring UN peacekeeping forces to the country. He is greeted with a military ceremony that, in my opinion, signifies the irreconcilable difference between the East and the West.

Ironically, the portrait of José Ramos Horta, an indefatigable fighter who broke the silence about East Timor in the (disinterested) Western press, doesn't come out as memorable or inspiring. Unquestionably, the film is very effective and involving due to its subject matter, without a mawkish triumph-of-the-human-spirit agenda being pushed. But what should have been a celebration of human tenacity comes out as an intelligent film, though with a somewhat insipid portrayal of its hero.

Diplomacy.



The Diplomat

Facts and Figures

Run time: 94 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 24th January 2009

Production compaines: Australian Film Finance Corporation, Screentime Pty. Ltd.

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 5.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Tom Zubrycki

Producer: Sally Browning, Wilson da Silva

Starring: as Ian Porter, as Detective Chief Inspector Julie Hales, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor as Mark Wilson, as Pippa Porter, Don Hany as Sergei Krousov, Jonny Pasvolsky as Antonio Morelli, Tony Martin as Bill Murray, Socratis Otto as Shannon Cross, as Detective Sergeant Neil Trent, Alex Menglet as Dimitri, Shane Briant as Winston Beale, Costa Ronin as Vladimir, as Charles Van Koors

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.