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Uma Lulik (The Sacred House)








Visual Anthropology

Type of Work



Executive Production

Capacity Building

Film Production

Video Editing




  • 2010 DOCTV CPLP

  • 2011 3rd Audience Award, Brisbane International Film Festival (Australia)

Film Festivals & Screenings


  • National Museum of Ethnography in Portugal




  • Kopi Kultur (Bali)

  • Maha Art Gallery (Bali) 


  • Kino 18, Jagiellonian University (Krakow) 


  • Brisbane International Film Festival 

  • Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (Australia)


  • European Film Festival (Timor-Leste)

  • TPA (Angola)

  • TVM (Mozambique)

  • TCV (Cabo Verde)

  • TDM (Macau)

  • RTVGB (Guinea-Bissau)

  • TV Cultura (Brazil)

  • RTP1 (Portugal) 

  • TVTL (Timor-Leste)

  • Brasilidade Festival (Rio de Janeiro)

  • Luanda International Film Festival

  • 1st CPLP DOCTV, Cinemateca (Lisbon)

  • Hotel Timor (Dili)


Uma Lulik is an award-winning documentary that follows the construction of a sacred house in the mountainous region of Venilale (Timor-Leste). Traditionally speaking, the Uma Lulik is the centre of everything, 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; this cycle revitalises the ties with their forefathers, it also regenerates the loyalty and mutual responsibility between relatives and different families.

Uma Lulik was the first documentary entirely directed by an East Timorese —filmmaker and artist Victor de Sousa–, who over 9 months captured 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 East 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.

The film was funded with a DOCTV CPLP award, and was co-produced by David and IDA Lta in Timor-Leste. In this project David played the role of executive producer, enabling all aspects of the production while mentoring Victor throughout the process of producing a film from beginning to end. 

Following the official opening at Hotel Timor on 10th October 2010, the film was broadcasted on national TV across all Portuguese speaking countries, reaching a potential audience of 300 million viewers. In 2011, the film received the 3rd Audience Award at the Brisbane International Film Festival. A copy of the film was acquired by the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon in 2015.

Uma Lulik became a cult-classic for those interested in traditional culture in Timor-Leste. It has inspired other media productions such as The Heart of East Timor by Janak Rogers (Heart & Soul, BBC) and Lulik: The Heart of East Timor by Miyuki Jokiranta (Earshot, ABC). The film was screened in Lisbon at the National Museum of Ethnography in June 2017, as part of the exhibition Timorese Architecture: Miniatures of the World—a tribute to the book Arquitetura Timorense (1987) by Rui Cinatti, Leopoldo de Almeida and António de Sousa Mendes.

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