Tetum (with English Subtitles)
Melbourne Australia
Healing in Timor-Leste is rarely straightforward. Timorese people acknowledge and embrace multiple pathways to healing in a complex interplay between spiritual care, comfort and personal connection. Through lifelong observation and learning, they trial a variety of practices and pass down their knowledge to the next generation. Holding Tightly is a contribution to longer-term research between the directors and a diverse set of healing practitioners in Timor-Leste. The film asks viewers to consider what we understand health and wellbeing to mean, showing how healing is intimately entangled with forms of belief and care grounded in deep connections between people and their environments.

This film explores the significance of customary health and healing practices in the young nation-state of Timor-Leste. Between 2013 and 2015, Barnes and Palmer along with Ritsuko Kakuma initiated an interdisciplinary scoping study in partnership with the Timor-Leste Ministry of Health and the National University of Timor-Leste (UNTL). Led by global mental health expert Kakuma, this study aimed to improve understanding of Timor-Leste’s customary health and healing practices, and to explore the potential of integrating these practices with modern psychological and clinical methods. The findings of this research informed the ideas for this film, its structure and approach.

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