This film follows the construction of a sacred house. Entirely filmed in the mountains of Timor-Leste, in the region of Venilale, the film also tells us a story about inherited culture and the great Timorese family. Traditionally in Timor-Leste, the Uma Lulik (Sacred House) is the centre, the umbilical cord between the past and the present. For those alive, it is a secured reservoir of past memories and wisdom. For the dead, it’s a timeless place, where history is constantly renewed. The construction or renovation of a sacred house usually takes place every 10-20 years, an imperative date for each Timorese family. This cycle revitalises the ties with their forefathers, it also regenerates the loyalty and mutual responsibility between relatives and different families.
This is the first documentary entirely filmed and directed by a young Timorese filmmaker, Victor de Sousa, who over 9 months lived the experience of one of the oldest traditions in Timor-Leste, transporting us to the universe of his forefathers, unquestionable and present in each moment and for every object born from the land and from the collective memory of the Timorese.
‘UMA LULIK’ remind us that the reconstruction of national identity, specially after the destruction of most of the Sacred Houses during 24 years of Indonesian occupation, is now passing through the villages and the mountains, where memories and the sacred are returning slowly to their place, returning home.
‘Don’t think you know it all’. Warns the voice-over. Many secrets still have to be discovered. That is the nature of the sacred things and of the heritage of old knowledge. We must wait with patience our turn to carry that knowledge. Only time, life and the love of the land can determine the right moment. Instructed by tradition, with spoken words, passing from fathers to children, you will find the message and the legacy of the old, the history and the future for the land of the rising sun.
It opened at the Cinemateca in Lisbon during the CPLP DOCTV in September 2010 and subsequently the film was shown across all national television channels in Portuguese speaking countries, including RTP International. It was official selection at the Brasilidade Film Festival in Rio de Janeiro 2010, the International Film Festival in Luanda 2010 and it got the 3rd Audience Award (3rd out of 135) at BIFF, Brisbane International Film Festival 2011.