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Spotlight Cinema: White Sun

  • Madison Museum of Contemporary Art 227 State Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

What Deepak Rauniyar's sophomore feature White Sun (his debut was 2012's Highway) may lack in visual panache is redeemed in a richly layered drama that spans generations. Following the Nepalese Civil War (1996-2006) between the King's government and anti-monarchical Communists (Maoists), families in the country's most rural regions saw the starkest political division even under the UN's Comprehensive Peace Accord. This couldn't be more true for spirited partisan Chandra (Dayahang Rai), who is given a lukewarm reception after returning from the capital of Kathmandu to his native village in the Himalayas. Expecting to eulogize his departed father, Chandra instead must overcome the strange hurdles of tradition that complicate the burying of his body. Simultaneously, Chandra remains deadlocked in a rivalry with his brother Suraj (Rabindra Singh Baniya), who, like their dad, supported the monarchy. Further familial complications arise as Chandra's ex-wife Durga (Asha Maya Magrati) insists that Chandra claim to be the father of their daughter Pooja (Sumi Malla) so she may receive an education. In microcosm, the native Nepalese director Rauniyar's perceptive narrative navigates the literal and psychological terrain to find harmonious interpersonal resolve within a family torn apart by ideology, perhaps similar to Elite Zexer's feminist comment on the tenuous state of Israel in Sand Storm (a highlight of last year's Spotlight series). However, in broader terms, White Sun is framed by the country's natural beauty and a poignant, yet hopeful tone in enduring loss and East Asia's slowly but surely changing ethos. —Grant Phipps

Later Event: November 16
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