SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

Atambua 39° Celsius (Tetum and Indonesian with English subtitles)

Atambua 39 Celsius
Q & A with Riri Riza (Director) and Tony Rayns (Film Critic)

Date: 20 October 2013Time: 7:00 PM

Finishes: 20 October 2013Time: 9:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Film

Film screening followed by Q & A with director Riri Riza and film critic Tony Rayns

Indonesian film with English subtitles.
(Indonesia, 2012, 90 minutes)


Ronaldo works as an inter-city bus driver in the border town of Atambua in West Timor. His teenage son Joao has been separated from his mother since the East Timorese pro-independence Referendum of 1999, and when she returns to Atambua, Joao is drawn to her. Director Riri Riza’s humanist drama about refugees displaced from their families is at once lyrical and politically charged.

Director’s Statement

During a visit to the city of Atambua on the border of Indonesia and Timor Leste some time ago, I felt a pulse of life still tainted with stories of families and friends torn apart, separated. Land that was formerly one was suddenly divided twelve years ago. Many people I spoke to revealed dark stories, but also beautiful ones full of hope. I was touched.

The story of Joao, Ronaldo and Nikia then appeared in my head. I wanted to tell a story about how hard human beings try to adjust themselves against the forces of external pressure, yet subconsciously they still suffer from the feelings of longing to be loved. In this film, I wanted to work with local people who have experienced that transition process when Timor became Timor Leste.

Atambua 39°Celcius is a film recalling the style of my previous work, Eliana, Eliana. The visual background of this film is the neighbourhood environment of a displaced community in Timor, with its homes of traditional walls and tin roofs. The city of Atambua is a collision of tradition and modernity, progress and poverty, hardship and beauty, alongside the hot savannah of Timor.


Free and open to the public, no booking required

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