Urban Cinefile
"I started as a comic, as you probably can tell (laughs), but I lost my way, and for the last 30 years I have tried to get back "  -Al Pacino
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Wednesday, October 18, 2017 

Search SEARCH FOR A VIDEO_FILE
Our Review Policy OUR REVIEW POLICY
Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE

Help/Contact

PUNITIVE DAMAGE

SYNOPSIS:
The 20 year old New Zealand-Malaysian student, Kamal Bamadhaj, went to East Timor to assist a human rights investigation. His passion for the cause of independence of East Timor led to him being shot dead by the Indonesian military at the Santa Cruz Cemetery in Dili - one of the 271 unarmed East Timorese who died there. His (by then divorced from her Malaysian husband) mother, Helen Todd, had an opportunity to seek justice in the US courts for her son's death. She eventually found a way to fight the Indonesian Government and those responsible, in a landmark international court case, awarding punitive damages of US$16 million in her favour. Though she may never see any of the money (and would give it to the East Timorese families who also lost their children if she did), the judgement stands as a monument to human rights around the world.

"For anyone whose life has been touched by the evil of politico-miltary oppression, Punitive Damage is an all too familiar and all too painful story, a classic example of the brutality and inhumanity of the dictatorial system - not just in Indonesia, of course. For others, it's a recommended window. With its scalpel-like accuracy in unraveling the barbarity of that regime, the film confronts us with the realpolitik in which Australia plays a significant part. But that much we can expect: what is a heart breaking and poignant surprise is the lack of malice, the lack of revenge-seeking (as distinct from justice) and the lack of bitterness in Helen Todd, Kamal's mother. As she explains, she was the only one of the 271 families devastated by the murders at the cemetery who could tackle the case without endangering the lives of her family - because she is a New Zealander. Using reconstruction with validity and great sensitivity, Annie Goldson presents the case with attention to detail and especially to making Kamal a real person we care about. Producer Gaylene Preston (with experience in tough subject documentaries that have heaps of heart, like War Stories) also deserves praise for facilitating a story that is relevant to New Zealand and the whole human race. You can't say it's terrific fun, but you can say it's enormously moving and always gripping."
Andrew L. Urban

Email this article

___________________

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

___________________

See Andrew L. Urban's interview with
ANNIE GOLDSON

SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES

PUNITIVE DAMAGE (M 15+)
(New Zealand)
Documentary

DIRECTOR: Annie Goldson

PRODUCER: Gaylene Preston

SCRIPT CONSULTANTS: Schuchia Kothari, Gaylene Preston

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Leon Narbey

EDITOR: John Gilbert

MUSIC: Stephen Taberner

(also featuring the music of Timorese choir, Hananu Kore A'an)

RUNNING TIME: 77 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Ronin

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: August 26, 1999







Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2017