The death of a village chairman exposes simmering generational clashes in Nepalese filmmaker Deepak Rauniyar’s gripping drama “White Sun.”
In the mountains, away from the political struggles dominating news from the capital Kathmandu, returning son Chandra (Dayahang Rai) — who fought with the usurping Maoists against the monarchy — finds stubborn elders hewing to traditional burial laws. They require him to carry his dad’s body down the mountain with his brother Suraj (Rabindra Singh Baniya), his ideological opposite in the country’s civil war. Caught in the re-opened rift is the dead man’s caretaker, Durga (Asha Magrati), a lower caste woman once involved with Chandra, who’s prevented from participating in the burial, and dreams of escaping.
The adults’ bitterness and confusion is all witnessed by a pair of impressionable children: Badri (Amrit Pariyar), a street orphan who followed Chandra from the city into the mountains and is speculated to be his son, and Durga’s young daughter Pooja (Sumi Malla), who has been told Chandra is her father.
As Chandra’s exasperation with discriminatory customs he fought against gives way to cross-purpose solutions that only further complicate matters, the steep, unforgiving mountain passages become Rauniyar’s physical metaphor for the hard road of an old country’s attempts to find new compromises. That so packed (and pictorially arresting) a scenario is not only well-acted — from the kids to the elders — but handled with emotional intelligence and even eye-rolling humor, speaks to Rauniyar’s narrative gifts regarding matters of his homeland.
In Nepali with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills