Current Projects

Dili Film Works is currently producing three exciting new projects.

The Stolen Child


This is the untold story of Timor Leste’s stolen generation. Jose ‘Abdul’ Rahman is one of thousands of children who were stolen during the 24-year long illegal occupation of Timor Leste by Indonesia. He was ‘looted’ as were many of the small country’s natural resources. In 1978 and 1979 Timor Leste suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Indonesian military which was supported by Australia, Britain, and the U.S. 180,000 Timorese died in this short period, making it the highest per-capita genocide in modern history. Jose, aged 9, survived by attaching himself to an Indonesian Army unit. He became a porter and was then taken back to Indonesia by a soldier to work as a servant. This is the story of Jose’s return, after 36 years, to reunite with his family.

The Stolen Child is a unique film about the damage that war does to a nation, and to an individual. Jose’s story will establish the way in which these family reunions are critical for the Timor, and for Indonesia, to heal, to reconcile with the past, and to move forward. Indonesia’s public policy during the occupation defined Timor as a child unable to govern itself, a child to be taken and made Indonesian. Jose’s story parallels that of his nation, both were ‘stolen’. His journey to the village of his birth is a powerful account of how a man, and his country, can be reborn after one of the most brutal and harrowing occupations in history.

This film is a powerful example of how two worlds, Christian and Muslim, can accept each other and reconcile. It touches a global issue and is a lesson for the world.

This important film has been financed by the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP).  Dili Film Works won the CPLP Timor Leste documentary competition with this project.

The Age of Living Dangerously


The Age of Living Dangerously is a powerful human drama, a cold case investigation and a politically explosive story. Shirley Shackleton (84) travels to Indonesia to visit her husband’s grave. Greg Shackleton was one of five Australian based journalists killed in Portuguese Timor whilst reporting on Indonesian military incursions into the small colony in 1975. This is an unsolved mass killing and Shirley has lived for decades not knowing how her husband died or who killed him. But she does know that not long after they were killed the men’s remains were buried in a Jakarta cemetery. She has campaigned for years to have Greg’s remains repatriated to Australia. Shirley will visit the Jakarta cemetery and attempt to have Greg’s ashes returned.

Shirley will then travel to Timor Leste and retrace the steps of veteran Australian journalist Roger East who travelled to Dili in 1975 to investigate the deaths of the five young men. East was later shot and killed in Dili the day after the full-scale invasion of Timor in December 1975.

Shirley’s life has been marked by a fierce determination to seek justice for the Balibó Five, Roger East, and for the people of East Timor. Her journey follows in the wake of the decision by the Australian Federal Police to abandon its war crimes investigation into the case due to ‘insufficient evidence’. Shirley wants to know the truth about how her husband died. She wants the doubts and nightmares to end so that she can live the rest of her long life in peace.

Shirley travels to the small town of Balibó on the border of Timor Leste and Indonesia. It is where her husband and the other four journalists were killed in 1975.   In Balibó Shirley may find closure, perhaps the investigation will reveal new evidence about who killed her husband, or how he died. She grieves, and the women in the town grieve with her, and hold a traditional Timorese ceremony to release Greg’s soul and to put an end to Shirley’s mourning. In Timor the ceremony is called a Koremetan, literally untying the black. It marks the end of the mourning period following a person’s death. The Timorese see Greg and Shirley’s story as their own, and they take responsibility for her healing. This is a powerful and moving conclusion to the film, and to this chapter in Shirley’s life.

The film is reminiscent of Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence. However, The Age of Living Dangerously, unlike Oppenheimer’s films is about the murder of Australian citizens, and, in the case of East Timor, about the largest genocide per capita in modern history, which happened right on our doorstep. Many believe that the Australian Government at the time covered up the murders, and colluded in the invasion of Timor to protect its trade interests with Indonesia. Until the truth is told about who murdered these men, why Timor was sacrificed, and why Australia has been complicit in and covered up these crimes, the reputation Australia has as a decent, fair nation is damaged.

Please Support this film

Dili Film Works is currently seeking philanthropic support for this film.

A crowd funding site can be found here.

A tax deductible contribution can be made through the Australian Documentary Foundation here.

Timor-Leste Telenovela

(Preparation Stage)

A 20 part TV Series series focussing on human rights and democracy in Timor Leste.  This groundbreaking series for TVTL is being produced by Dili Film Works for Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR).  Funded by the European Union this is the most ambitious television project to be made in Timor Leste.

Production starts in October 2016.