A death exposes fissures in a Nepalese village in “White Sun,” the second feature from Deepak Rauniyar.
According to tradition, the corpse, that of the village chairman, Chitra (Prakash Ghimire), can’t be removed through the main door of a house. This leads to a cumbersome group effort to haul the body out of an upstairs window — and that’s before Durga (Asha Magrati), who had been tending to Chitra, touches the corpse, an action forbidden for women.
The arrival of one of Chitra’s sons, Chandra (Dayahang Rai), from Kathmandu generates additional tension. Chandra left the village to fight with the anti-monarchical Maoist rebels in the civil war that lasted from 1996 to 2006 and ended with the authoritarian king removed from power. Durga, to whom he was married, wants him to certify that he is the father of her daughter, Pooja (Sumi Malla), even though the girl was conceived while Chandra was off fighting. Without the papers, Pooja can’t attend school. One alternative signatory is Chandra’s brother, Suraj (Rabindra Singh Baniya), who, like his recently departed father, supported the monarchy. (Whether the body should be draped in a flag is just one argument during the film-long attempts to lay Chitra to rest.)
The filmmaking isn’t flashy and the exchanges can be on the nose, but “White Sun,” which was shown earlier this year at the New Directors/New Films festival in New York, captures a place that isn’t seen much in movies. It shows how the lingering disputes of war ripple through lives after guns have ostensibly been laid down.
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