Oscar foreign language film spotlight: Nepal’s ‘White Sun’ shows how the power of politics causes rifts in family relations

Following our American holiday of Thanksgiving, we all know how deep political divisions within a family can be revealed at the dinner table. However, there have rarely been arguments on film that have cut quite as deep as in Deepak Rauniyar‘s “White Sun,” Nepal’s official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film race for the 2018 Oscars.

“White Sun” is set just after Nepal’s Civil War, and Chandra (Dayahang Rai), who fought on the side of the Maoists against the ruling monarchy, returns to his conservative hometown to a most unwelcome greeting. His father, who was a village chairman, has just died, and village elders hold to extremely traditional burial laws. The body has to be removed from the family home via a window (and it’s a pretty tight fit), then carried down a steep mountain to the river by Chandra and his brother Suraj (Rabindra Singh Baniya), who is not happy about the prodigal son returning home.

SEE 2018 Oscars: Record 92 foreign-language film entries from A (Afghanistan) to V (Vietnam)

For Suraj and Chandra, the slippery footing down the mountain as they carry the body is treacherous. But it’s not nearly as treacherous as the venom with emerges from their lips as they make it very clear that while the Nepal Civil War may be over, the war between them is not. Suraj can finally take no more, drops his side of the body and wanders away. With the elders accompanying the procession clearly in no physical shape to carry the body, Chandra must find some able-bodied men to help bring his father’s body to the river but he finds that others, while they realize that they war may be over, they are not yet ready to forgive. And still the body of Chandra’s father remains not yet put to rest in the forest.

A record total of 92 countries submitted a film for consideration this year, narrowing down to a short list of nine titles by the special committee announcing in December. Of those nine, five will be named as nominees when the full set of Oscar nominations are revealed on January 23, 2018.

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