Home Entertainment Film & TV 'Mensajeiru' ('Messenger'): A Courageous Short Film Set in East Timor

‘Mensajeiru’ (‘Messenger’): A Courageous Short Film Set in East Timor

Mensajeiru (Messenger) is a short film by East Timorese Director Francisca Maia. Based on a true story, a young man accepts a dangerous mission to deliver a message on behalf of hundreds of refugees hiding from paramilitary forces in East Timor.

Loro sneaks off to follow his brother on the journey. (Image: VCA Film & Television School via YouTube/Screenshot)
Loro sneaks off to follow his brother on the journey. (Image: VCA Film & Television School via YouTube/Screenshot)

The message is a handwritten letter to the International Force For East Timor (INTERFET) to inform them of the situation. It is sewn into the man’s shoe before he sets off on the perilous journey.

He is followed by his 15-year-old brother, who then must shoulder the responsibility of delivering the letter in hopes of saving his community during East Timor’s vote for independence from Indonesia.

The film is shot on Oecussi Mountain in East Timor. (Image: VCA Film & Television School via YouTube/Screenshot)
The film is shot on Oecussi Mountain in East Timor. (Image: VCA Film & Television School via YouTube/Screenshot)

The opening title sequence states:

Local actors play the Indonesian Militia group in the film. (Image: VCA Film & Television School via YouTube/Screenshot)
Local actors play the Indonesian Militia group in the film. (Image: VCA Film & Television School via YouTube/Screenshot)

The film was produced by Apocalypse Films producer Tuuli Forward with a local crew, who had never worked in film production, and a crew from Australia. The film was shot in a week in the jungle outside the northern coastal city of Dili with assistance from the Victorian College of the Arts.

Loro hiding from the militia. (Image: VCA Film & Television School via YouTube/Screenshot)
Loro hiding from the militia. (Image: VCA Film & Television School via YouTube/Screenshot)

Mensajeiru premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival and has gone on to do well at the Munich Filmschoolfest, Geneva Film Festival and Beijing Film Academy’s 13th International Student Film & Video Festival

A scene with Loro and his brother who has the letter sewn into his shoes. (Image: VCA Film & Television School via YouTube/Screenshot)
A scene with Loro and his brother, with rich cinematography by Max Davis. (Image: VCA Film & Television School via YouTube/Screenshot)

The film’s rich setting and non-actors stand out as strong points. We see a moment where the brothers share food together before going their separate ways. It’s a natural and beautiful moment set against the high-pressured task of the messengers. The letter that the young boy carried was responsible for saving hundreds of lives.

It’s an important story about the country’s history for the world to see, and it carries with it such heart. And the message at the end of the film recognizes this, along with paying tribute to all those messengers that didn’t complete their journey.

(Image: VCA Film & Television School via YouTube/Screenshot)
(Image: VCA Film & Television School via YouTube/Screenshot)

In an interview with the Film School Festival Munich‘s director, Francisca Maia, explains what led her to want to become a filmmaker:

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Jessica Kneipphttp://www.jessicakneipp.net
Jessica grew up in the tropics of North Australia. She writes about films, and occasionally gets to write and direct them. She has a love of silent films, they are the closest she will ever get to "time travel." However, on some real travels she spotted a polar bear while visiting the Arctic, and has enjoyed the view of the Mongolian plains on a train from Russia to China. Her favorite fruit is pomegranate and her most memorable gift is a Super 8 camera from her husband, which she is keen to shoot some footage of Antarctic icebergs on one day.  

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