Dir. Deepak Rauniyar
Official Selection Feature – International
The Richter Scale says: We’re all going to die. That may sound depressing, but in the end it’s something that unites us all. No matter our differences, in gender, religious beliefs, political ideologies, ages, we’re all united as human beings by the fact that we’re all eventually going to die. Someone’s death implies that the people closest to that person come together and reconnect, which leads to conflicts and, if all goes well, new agreements. Chandra (Dayahang Rai) left his village in the mountains of Nepal to fight in the Civil War on the Maoist side, which has put him in conflict with his village. When his father dies, Chandra returns after many years and among the conflicts he has to sort out are his brother Suraj (Rabindra Singh Baniya) who resents his brother for never returning and his political ideologies, and Durga (Asha Maya Magrati) who was once his wife and now she wants him to recognize her daughter Pooja (Sumi Malla) as his so she can go to school in the city (Durga wants her daughter to grow up in a place where woman are valued more).
For a film that takes on a lot of politics (communism, treatment of women, traditions), it’s impressive that it doesn’t feel so dense and that’s because director Deepay Rauniyar (who co-wrote the script with David Barker) keeps the politics at a personal level. It’s used as a context to create conflict, including one with Badri (Amrit Pariyar), an orphaned boy who latches on to Chandra and pretends to be his son, until he finds out Chandra is a Maoist, and the conflict with the village elders who see how each and every one of their traditions when trying to bury a village leader are shattered one by one because the two brothers can’t get along. Regarding the screenplay, this film uses its child characters quite well. Children in cinema tend to be a reflection of the future. What children do in a film can generate hope that better things are coming for these characters and it helps that Badri and Pooja are such well-constructed characters, as human beings and as representations of a hope for the future (Pooja, for example, is her mother’s hope that women can have a better place in the world).
Rauniyar, alongn with his cinematographer Mark Ellam, takes advantage of the Nepal mountains to give each scene a view that gives more depth to the drama and provides great moments of comedy (Chandra’s father’s body, for example, spends most of the movie on a hill surrounded by old men who can’t carry him) and gives it an apparent timelessness (even though we know it’s set in the 21st Century because of the Nepalese Civil War) that allows the story to feel universal. Dayahang Rai carries the story, creating a character with the presence of a hero (starting with the fact that he’s carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders), but with a certain sourness that makes him unpleasant at times, though never to the degree that we stop rooting for him, and even though Durga doesn’t have that much to do, Asha Maya Magrati takes advantage of those moments when Durga is finally able to take control of a situation. The story is made up of conflicts that are ultimately reflected as being mostly absurd when faced with one of the life’s great truths that unites us all.
White Sun will be screened in Guanajuato City today at 18:00 hrs at the Auditorium of the University of Guanajuato.
Dir. Bruce McDonald
Canada Gala Screening
The Richter Scale says: “Do you think people are lucky or unlucky?” This is what Kit (Dylan Authors) asks his girlfriend Alice (Julia Sarah Stone) early in this film about a teenage couple (both of them are 15) who embark on a journey to Sydney, Nova Scotia to find Kit’s mother. This question resurfaces throughout the narrative and touches upon something essential about life that we all eventually come to understand: luck is present in everything we do. Sometimes we’re lucky with the parents we get, the place we live in, our time period, the people we meet, the person we fall in love with… and sometimes we’re unlucky in one or more of these areas. Life is a collection of fortunate moments and less fortunate moments and somewhere in between those moments we can sneak in a choice or two we make, but in general, despite what we may think when we’re young, the choices we get to make throughout our lives are few and we must always come to that moment in life when we accept that and be content with the few choices we get to make.
This film by director Bruce McDonald e<is set in Canada in 1976, when the Vietnam War had recently ended and the United States is about to celebrate its 200th Anniversary as a nation. It’s a time in which the North American continent is still recovering from the wounds of the 1960’s and Kit is on a quest for something better, while Alice tags along because she’s in love with him. As a film set in the 1970’s, it’s greatest influence seems to be the films of Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show, Paper Moon), who in the 1970’s used black-and-white to give a certain bygone era a sense of romanticism, and now Bruce McDonald and his cinematographer Becky Parsons use that same tool to give a certain romanticism to the 70s themselves , while never losing sight of the fact that is was a complicated time period. Bogdanovich’s influences don’t end there, because just like The Last Picture Show, this is a film that takes youth and the concerns surrounding youth seriously. These are young people who experiment with drugs, smoke, talk about wanting to have sex (some of them may have already had sex, but we’re not meant to know that), lie to their parents and are 0ut searching for answers to questions that they slowly beging to realize they will never get. The film takes these details as a reality without giving it too much importance, it simply adds to the authenticity of these characters.
Speaking of “authentic”, this film would not be the triumph it is without its two main actors, both portraying complicated emotions during a torturous age with an impressive amount of maturity. Stone is simply radiant as Alice, while Authors carries the emotional weight of the story. It’s refreshing that even though it’s a story about teenagers, screenwriter Daniel MacIvor treats his adult characters with the same respect, which draws incredible performances from Allan Hawco and Molly Parker (as Kit’s parents). The screenplay presents these characters through conflicts based on secrets they keep and mistakes they make due to the time period they live in and due to the simple fact that they’re human beings and they don’t choose how they feel about something (or possible mental condition they may have). I’m not certain whether having Kit imagine Andy Warhol (Rhys Bevan-John) to have conversations with works as well as the rest of the film, since they’re the only moments where it feels like the film doesn’t quite trust its audience (even though I really like Bevan-John’s take on Andy Warhol). Either way, this film has everything one can ask for from a movie: endearing characters, authentic conflicts, a lot of humor, a few tears and a feeling of satisfaction for having spent time in this world and with these characters who teach us that nothing is really as bad as it seems as long as someone has your back.
Weirdos will be screened as part of the Canada Gala Event in Guanajuato City today at 20:30 hrs at the Juárez Theater.