He was known as Christopher Wenner when he co-hosted the BBC’s children’s program from 1978 to 1980.
As Max Stahl, he filmed the 1991 massacre of 271 demonstrators against the Indonesian government in East Timor. The former President of East Timor, José Ramos Horta, called him a “precious son”.
“We honor him as one of the true heroes of our struggle,” wrote Ramos-Horta on Facebook shortly before the filmmaker’s death. Indonesia had ruled the former Portuguese colony since its invasion in 1975, and Stahl had traveled there in 1991 after the tourist restrictions were eased after 1989.
He learned of a planned protest march to a cemetery after a memorial service for an independence supporter. Stahl told the BBC in 2016, “I set up my camera when there was a wall of sound, at least 10 seconds of uninterrupted shooting. Soldiers who arrived fired at close range at a crowd of a few thousand teenagers.” And he added, “I could easily see that it was only a matter of time before they came to me, and at that point I thought, well, I should get out of here.” He buried the film in the cemetery and was later smuggled out and broadcast around the world.
RamosHorta wrote, “There are few key points in the history of TimorLeste where our nation’s course towards freedom turned. This was one of those points. ” It was the first time our message reached the world . Human Rights Networks intervened, with senators, congressmen and parliamentarians on our side.And it happened when a man was willing to risk his life to document exactly what was happening and smuggled the news out of our country. ” Stahl then revealed how the survivors of the Santa Cruz massacre were brutally murdered in the hospital became; and documentation of the repression when East Timor declared independence in 1999.