MEMORIA – Timor Leste as a Land of Memory

November 25, 2016

MEMORIA is a 35 minutes-long short film based on a true story in Timor Leste directed by Kamila Andini and produced by Hivos Southeast Asia and Treewater.  Most of the actors are non-professionals and also survivors of Gender-Based Violence in Timor Leste, such as sexual violence during the 1975-1999 conflict with Indonesia and domestic violence. 

MEMORIA received an award for outstanding achievement at the 21st Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in Busan, South Korea, which ran from October 8 to 14, 2016. It was also nominated for best short film in the Indonesian Film Festival (FFI) in 2016. This film is a unequivocal and moving indictment of the sexual violence in Timor Leste, which has spent far too many years under the public’s radar.

MEMORIA film fiche


Maria Fatima Sara dos Reis Afonso, Lucia Naroman Pereira de Oliveira, Edigar Antonio Fatima Costa, Joao Basilio da Costa, Felimona da Costa, Jose Maria Alves, Madalena Paiva Soares, Alcina Brites dos Santos, Beatris Miranda, Maria de Fatima.


MEMORIA tells the story of Maria, a forty-year-old survivor of sexual violence during the Indonesian occupation (1975-1999), who is struggling to overcome the trauma of sexual violence she has lived with all these years. She leaves in her village in Timor Leste with her nineteen-year-old daughter, Flora, who is also struggling to understand her identity as the daughter of a man who she has never met. Maria remarries, but once again experiences domestic violence at the hands of her new husband.

Maria, who never really felt that she “owned” her own body, starts contemplating and feeling concerned about the possibility of a similar situation which Flora might go through if she decides to marry her boyfriend. Maria writes a sentence in Bahasa Indonesia ‘For the sake of our safety” to remind herself to watch over Flora’s safety. So then, during the ‘negotiation’ of the dowry (a transfer of parental property at the marriage of a daughter), Maria requests no dowry for Flora, which greatly upsets Flora and sets up the central conflict of the story.

Watch the film to see how everything turns out in the end!