This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

18Apr/13

TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL: ALIAS RUBY BLADE

Kirsty Sword shares her compelling story about the battle for Timorese independence in ALIAS RUBY BLADE

Kirsty Sword shares her compelling story about the battle for Timorese independence in ALIAS RUBY BLADE

ALIAS RUBY BLADE: A STORY OF LOVE AND REVOLUTION (Alex Meillier, 2012)
Friday, April 19, AMC Loews Village 7, 8:30
Saturday, April 20, AMC Loews Village 7, 4:00
Tuesday, April 23, Clearview Cinemas Chelsea, 3:30
Saturday, April 27, AMC Loews Village 7, 3:00
www.tribecafilm.com
www.aliasrubyblade.com

Alias Ruby Blade: A Story of Love and Revolution is an intimate, involving documentary that goes behind the scenes of East Timor’s battle for independence, structured like a gripping thriller with a decidedly personal edge. In 1991, Australian Kirsty Sword went to East Timor as part of a team posing as tourists while actually making a secret film about the embattled Indonesian island. Almost immediately, the Australian teacher and activist found herself right in the middle of the violent struggle as bullets flew all around her and her team, but they kept the cameras rolling, compiling amazing footage that helped alert the world as to what was happening there. Sword soon became a courier for the revolution, adopting the spy name Ruby Blade and smuggling in notes and, eventually, electronic equipment to jailed resistance leader Kay Rala “Xanana” Gusmão, who was serving a life sentence in Jakarta’s Cipinang Prison. Armed with a camera, Sword took remarkable footage during those years, most of which has never before been shown to the public; she opened up her archives for husband-and-wife documentarians Tanya Ager Meillier and Alex Meillier and speaks extensively with them in the film, relating her involvement with the independence movement — which included falling in love with the charismatic Xanana. The Meilliers also talk with such key resistance fighters as Nobel Peace Prize winner José Ramos-Horta and diplomat Constancio Pinto as well as historian and human rights activist Geoffrey Robinson and Inside Indonesia editor Pat Walsh, who share their stories about the Indonesian occupation that lasted from 1975 to 1999, followed by a UN-sponsored referendum for independence that led to yet more horrors. But Sword, who narrates much of the film, and Xanana, who appears primarily in archival footage and photographs, never gave up their dream of a free, democratic East Timor while also considering a life together. As much as Alias Ruby Blade delves into the political situation in East Timor, it’s really about how a young, strong woman followed her heart and made a difference in a faraway part of the globe. Alias Ruby Blade will have its North American premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, where it’s part of the Documentary Competition. (By the way, the less you know about how things turned out in East Timor, the more exciting the film is, so don’t read up on it before going to one of the four screenings.)