Baucau Music & Arts Festival
The Avant/Garde Diaries recently travelled to East Timor, one of the world’s newest and least known countries. A Portuguese colony for nearly five hundred years, East Timor is culturally distinct from its Indonesian neighbors. So when it declared independence from Portugal in 1975, the East Timorese fought a long and protracted battle against the Indonesians who immediately claimed the country as part of their own. That battle finally ended in 1999, and while the peace is celebrated, the island is still recovering. Geographically, East Timor is a wonderland, home to many rare species, spectacular coral reefs, and breathtaking beaches, and it’s possibility to remain aloof of the past. So in an effort to maintain its hard-won peace through the power of art, influential local artists recently gathered in the island’s second largest city of Baucau for a weekend-long music and arts festival. The festival was initiated by Asialink resident Louise Partos and hosted by Afalyca, Baucau’s Community Arts Centre. Along with music, theater, and dance performances, local and international NGOs were on site to share information and connect with locals. But above all, it was a chance for the youth of Baucau to embrace music and the arts as an outlet for inspiration and as a tool for communication. Marqy da Costa, the festival’s music director, and performers Ego Lemos and Melchoir dias Fernandes spoke to us about the changes in East Timor and the peaceful message they hope to spread.
Produced by Callie Barlow & Louise Partos / Filmed & Edited by Luke Eblen / Additional footage by Thomas Henning / Production assistance by Alex Ben-Major & Thomas Henning / Music: Baucau community music recorded by Jesse Hooper, “It’s My Right to be Free” by Ego Lemos, & “TakaMatan” by Galaxy / Special thanks to Louise Partos, James Brown, Nicole Donnelly & Alto Pinto