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Balibo Five film in the making -

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ELEANOR HALL: It's more than 30 years since five Australian based newsmen were shot dead at Balibo
in East Timor.

Few deaths have caused so much controversy in Australia for so long - with several parliamentary
inquiries and last year's coronial inquest which found that Indonesian soldiers executed the men as
they invaded the former Portuguese territory from West Timor.

Now, the Balibo story is being made into a feature-length film - with Australian star Anthony
LaPaglia playing the role of Roger East - a sixth journalist who was also killed when he went to
Timor to investigate the five deaths.

Anne Barker reports, from Darwin, where the film auditions are continuing.

(Sounds of chanting)

ANNE BARKER: It's 1975 in East Timor.

The Portuguese are gone - the tiny state declares independence.

(Sound of gunfire)

ANNE BARKER: And as Indonesia prepares to invade, five Australian-based news men head to the
western town of Balibo.

(Sound of gunfire)

GREG SHACKLETON: At any rate we look like being the last people left in the town and we will make a
decision very shortly on whether we too should pull back.

ANNE BARKER: Today Greg Shackleton, Malcolm Rennie, Tony Stewart, Gary Cunningham and Brian Peters
are all household names.

For decades their deaths at Balibo mystified Australians - none more so than freelance journalist
Jill Jolliffe.

JILL JOLLIFFE: Well the very first reports were extremely dramatic.

ANNE BARKER: Jill Jolliffe was in Dili at the time and knew all five men and she remembers all too
clearly the day they were shot

JILL JOLLIFFE: And then an eyewitness turned up in Dili a week and a half after that. A young
Timorese soldier who had been present in Balibo and claimed to have seen them shot down by
Indonesian soldiers.

ANNE BARKER: It was the testimony of that witness that underpinned Jill Jolliffe's book on Balibo
which has now inspired the decision to make a feature length film.

ROBERT CONNOLLY: The way we're telling the story is through another journalist, Roger East, a
Darwi-based journalist who went up there about a month after the journalists went missing to find
out what happened to them. We are telling the story through a combination of his point and the
point of view of a Timorese woman.

ANNE BARKER: Director Robert Connolly and playwright David Williamson spent five years writing the
screenplay - based on Jill Jolliffe's book and last year's coronial inquest.

As a feature film it'll have a considerable fictional element - but Robert Connolly says it won't
pull any punches on how the men died

ROBERT CONNOLLY: It will show the Balibo Five being executed and I think in fairness to all the
families who, over 30 years, have been told so many different stories and have fought so hard for
the truth, I think it would be a pity if the film didn't actually show what we now know and what a
coroner has now shown actually happened.

ANNE BARKER: A second round of auditions are planned for Darwin this weekend.

Anthony LaPaglia will play the main character, Roger East and there's been no shortage of wannabe
film stars.

One of them Helmia Alkatiri - the niece of East Timor's former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

HELMIA ALKATIRI: Any part would be good as long as the good part - not the rebel side (laughs).

ANNE BARKER: As a young student now living in Darwin - Helmia Alkatiri says she has limited
knowledge of the Balibo Five.

HELMIA ALKATIRI: I've just been hearing story from my parents and families and watched the movies
about the '75 problems and everything.

ANNE BARKER: Filming will begin later this year in both Darwin and East Timor - where locals at
Balibo may be used as extras.

ELEANOR HALL: Anne Barker reporting.