Punitive Damages

  • 1998
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Documentary

This wrenching documentary about a mother's search for accountability in the murder of her son during a pro-democracy rally is a deeply involving human-interest story. But the fact that his death occurred in East Timor makes it essential viewing for anyone interested in that region's ongoing crisis. At the time of his death, 20-year-old New Zealander Kamal...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

  • Watch on
Reviewed by Ken Fox
Rating:

This wrenching documentary about a mother's search for accountability in the murder of her son during a pro-democracy rally is a deeply involving human-interest story. But the fact that his death occurred in East Timor makes it essential viewing for anyone

interested in that region's ongoing crisis. At the time of his death, 20-year-old New Zealander Kamal Bamadhaj was heavily involved with the pro-democracy student movement in East Timor, which had been held in the iron grip of neighboring Indonesia since 1975. In 1991, with a Portuguese

parliamentary delegation planning to visit, the Indonesian military attempted to squelch all signs of organized resistance. At a memorial service/political rally held in the Santa Cruz cemetery, near the capital city of Dili, the military opened fire and killed 271 unarmed protesters; among the

dead was Bamadhaj. Reeling from the news of her son's death, Helen Todd embarked a journey that began in Jakarta and, incredibly, ended in Boston's U.S. District Court. There, Helen took the extraordinary step of suing one of the Indonesian military leaders involved in the massacre -- by then a

student at Harvard -- for monetary and punitive damages. Director Annie Goldson has Todd and her lawyers read directly from the actual court transcripts, lending the dramatization a shattering emotional honesty. Interviews with witnesses, including an American journalist who was badly beaten at

the cemetery, as well as Kamal's girlfriend, provide valuable insight into 25 years of East Timorese history, as well as a haunting profile of a committed young man who died fighting for justice. The film is filled with shocking images and heartbreaking realizations. Chief among them is Todd's

recognition that, given all her suffering, she was one of the lucky ones: She learned what became of her son, and was the only one with any power to seek some kind retribution.

Cast & Details See all »

  • Released: 1998
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This wrenching documentary about a mother's search for accountability in the murder of her son during a pro-democracy rally is a deeply involving human-interest story. But the fact that his death occurred in East Timor makes it essential viewing for anyone… (more)

Show More »