Aussie doco on Timor wins US award

AAPOctober 28, 2009, 10:04 pm

An Australian-made documentary film about soldiers in East Timor has won an award from a major US film festival.

Timor Tour Of Duty, which looks at the Indonesian military's secret war against Australian and New Zealand troops and international peacekeepers in East Timor, received a special commendation Platinum Reel Award from the 2009 Nevada Film Festival.

The film made its US and international screen debut at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival on Sunday, the website reported.

Timor Tour Of Duty is a film is about two Australian soldiers and their involvement in a shootout in East Timor about a year after the death of New Zealand soldier Private Leonard Manning.

Manning, 24, was the United Nations' first combat fatality in Timor on July 24, 2000, when he was shot in an ambush during a security sweep in a rugged border region.

He was killed by militia gunfire but his body was later found mutilated.

Scott Sherwin, serving with Australia's Alpha Company, reveals in the documentary film that during a shootout with the pro-Indonesian militia in 2001, near Balibo, Manning's fate kept racing through his mind.

"I knew in the back of my mind that if we were captured then we would be cut up and then killed, so choices were quite limited, we had to fight back to stay alive," he said.

The Australian filmmaker believes that former US president Bill Clinton should have been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in East Timor.

"In my film Timor Tour Of Duty I reveal that the United States was the good guy in averting genocide in the tiny South-East Asian land of East Timor," Sasha Uzunov, the director and producer, told the website.

"Al Gore and Barack Obama have a Nobel Peace Prize but Clinton should have one as well.

"The kudos for East Timor belongs to Clinton, not ex-Australian prime minister John Howard and his then-foreign minister Alexander Downer."

Uzunov also said that Sherwin's patrol commander should have received a bravery award.

"I also take this opportunity to thank the two ex-soldiers ... for telling me their story about the shoot out in East Timor," he said.

"It is a pity that their patrol commander Kevin Campbell has missed out on an Australian bravery medal because of politics."


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