In 1999, after 24 years of forced occupation, East Timor won the right to vote for independence from Indonesia. The ballot would be supervised by the United Nations. The UN promised the East Timorese that they would stay after the vote, regardless of the outcome. It was a promise they couldn't keep.
Australian policeman Mark Waldman (David Wenham), Canadian police officer Julie Fortin (Isabelle Blais) and a young East Timorese translator named Ismenio Soares (Alex Tilman) are brought together by the UN's fateful effort to give the Timorese a voice in their own future.
Mark and Julie are unarmed and emotionally unprepared for the brutal reality of East Timor, while Ismenio is cynical about whether the UN can prevent what seems an inevitable, bloody end to the process. Against growing intimidation and violence from the Indonesian-backed militia, they work to get the Timorese registered to vote.
Ismenio's fears are realised when the vote goes pro-independence, the country is set afire and the UN evacuates. Mark and Julie are forced to abandon Ismenio and his family to a nightmarish fate.
Once back home, Mark and Julie are each haunted by guilt, and driven to make amends to the people they tried - and failed - to protect. Both return to the smoking ruins of East Timor, bent on seeking justice for the Timorese.
Answered by Fire is a story of faith, fear and the extraordinary strength of the human spirit.