There is no peace without justice. White Sun is a very intense and political fairy tale, exposing the tensions that Nepal has faced in the past few decades. The struggle of Maoists versus monarchists (with the victory of the former) has left Nepal deeply divided. Director Deepak Rauniyar digs deep into the history of his country to expose dilemmas of generations and a community divided between tradition and progress.
Located in the Himalaya, Nepal is home to eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains, including Mount Everest, the highest point on earth. The astonishing photography, vivid with very strong colours, was created by DOP Mark Ó’Fearghail. The story is set in 2015, the year when Nepal created a constitution for the first time in its history.
Chandra (Dayahang Rai) returns to his small village in the mountains in order to bury his father. The orphan child Badri helps him to transport his luggage. Chandra is an anti-regime partisan and fought for more than a decade in the Nepalese Civil War. Many in his village don’t share his views. His brother Suraj fought for the defeated monarchist regime. The local tradition mandates that they burn the corpses of the dead. In a village with mainly elderly men (the majority of the younger men went to fight in the war) Chandra and Suraj, with opposite positions, are the only young men left fit to carry their father’s body downhill to be cremated. Meanwhile Chandra’s ex-wife Shobha struggles to find a man to sign the birth certificate of her little daughter Pooja. Pooja needs a father in order to enter a boarding school, instead of being relegated to a low caste.
The script successfully transposes the woes of a nation to a village. The protagonist is a Maoist, but the film does not take sides with anyone. There are blemishes on all sides, and no one is immune to the problems. The script delves inro many dilemmas without resorting to melodramatic devices. There is an incredibly touching scene of the clash between the child Badri and Chandra which epitomises the absurdity of the conflict: Why are we breaking apart and killing each other?
The symbolism behind the death of Chandra and Suraj’s father is connected to an old saying: “death is the last truth”. The film raises many questions: which principles should the country embrace after the abolition of the monarchy? How do you mantain strong traditions without holding back the future of a new generation? The children Pooja and Badri may have the answers.
White Sun is showing this week at the 73rd Venice Film Festival as part of the Horizons Section. DMovies is live at the event.
You can watch a clip from the film below: