Thursday, September 14, 2006

It's a Different Kind of Being Stoned

Today we drove around Dili to get shots of burned and destroyed homes and cars. I need them for the doc to fully convey what it's like to be here. Sean, a former British Army and current security manager for CARE East Timor, said that I shouldn't go around in the car with the window rolled down, shooting b-roll out the window as we drive (which is the what I'd been doing earlier). He said it would pretty much be inviting a stoning. In fact, we're always supposed to have the windows rolled up and he even suggested wearing sunglasses for extra protection. In general, the gangs here don't have a problem with "malai" (foreigners) so they don't bother us. But Phil, an Australian who's in charge of IDP camps and who speaks fairly fluent Tetum, had his car stoned last night. I saw him today - he's ok.

What this means is that we just drive by so many images that I want to show in the doc project. I hate it. But I'm a big scaredy cat and I'm not into going against Sean's rules - the window stays rolled up and the camera in my lap. It's a downer. So today we went around looking for shots and I would stop the car whenever I saw something. I had express instructions to be as quick as possible. Also, our driver, with whom I can't really communicate besides basic hand motions, was told that he didn't have to stop if he felt nervous or unsafe. At one point, I really wanted to get a shot of a completely charred skeleton of a bus. We had passed it by only a few meters but he wouldn't let me walk there. He reversed for a good length and a gang of mean-looking dudes just slowly swivelled their heads, following us. Anne said, "Smile and wave." So I did. Majestically. I think it helps that we're young and cute and it definitely helps that we're women. I zipped out of the car, being careful to smile broadly and wave confidently to everybody watching, and got the shots really fast. As we drove away, I nodded my thanks. One guy waved back. The rest glared.

As I roamed through the scarred walls of a former home, I became kind of emotional. It is a completely unrecognizable site except that the walls are in the familiar configurations of bedrooms, front hall, windows, bathroom. The ceiling is blown off. The walls just stand there useless, open to the gorgeous blue sky. I was just awestruck by how much effort it would take to completely dismantle a home, to the point of ripping out all the electrical wiring. Those were the marks that really made me mad. They would start halfway up the wall, where the electrical outlet was, and continue up the wall to the non-existent ceiling. What a way to completely cripple a family. It seemed like it would take as much work to tear down a home as it would to put one up.

The cars I shot still smelled like burning. Almost five months after the initial rioting.

Last night we met with four Australian guys who are shooting a documentary on gang violence and positive change through music (how very Much!). They were so nice and interesting but we couldn't stay with them long as we had to make our 11 pm curfew (not a state-wide curfew, just a curfew for CARE staff). They gave us a copy of some performance they shot of a band called Cinqo d'Oriente. We did an interview with Ego, who's in the band, and we needed some performance for the doc. I've come all the way to Dili and I'm still interviewing musicians.

Tomorrow we're interviewing the Minister of Labour - a former pop star! Then we work out some visa stuff to go back to Indonesia, I get a few final shots of the graffiti wall and after lunch we're on a flight to Jogjakarta! I can't believe I'm two thirds of my way through this trip. And I know it sounds weird but I'm really glad that you're reading. I would feel really lonely otherwise.


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