In pre-production on Nepal’s Oscar entry White Sun, where intergenerational and complex national politics are at the forefront, director Deepak Rauniyar elected, in unorthodox fashion, to cast actors whose political sympathies aligned with their characters, believing that it would otherwise be too difficult to live with them for an extended period of time.
“In our society, we rarely talk with our children or our elders about what we went through. We went through a lot—we had like 100 years of dictatorship, then a brief democracy, then 30 years of dictatorship again, and then we had democracy reinstated with a big revolution, and had a decade-long Civil War,” the director explained to Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro following an Awardsline screening of the film. “The peace process that started is still going on, but we rarely talk about politics in the family, so one of my intentions was to bring three generations of people together, forcing them to interact in a way that they normally don’t.”
A nuanced portrait of post-Civil War Nepal, White Sun follows anti-regime partisan Chandra, who travels back to his remote mountain village for the first time in a decade following the death of his father. Coming back home, Chandra is confronted with his brother Suraj, who was on the opposing side of the war, and neither can put the past behind them, struggling to reconcile their different political leanings.
Joining Rauniyar onstage was executive producer Danny Glover, a four-time Emmy-nominated actor who has made it his mission in recent years to support a number of socially-conscious documentaries via his Louverture Films label —among them, the Oscar-nominated Trouble the Water, Shadow World, and The House on Coco Road—placing a spotlight on a number of vital global issues. “The extraordinary thing is that once you work with such a talented and wonderful director, you want to work with him again,” Glover said of his relationship with Rauniyar, which began with 2012’s Highway. “We had the opportunity to work with him on the second film, and hopefully we’ll get an opportunity to work with him on several films after that.”
Children feature prominently in White Sun, and during the panel, Glover touched on the importance of new generations for the future of the political process. “Children are the ones who now build the new world, their world,” he said. “You always see that, whether it was in the Civil Rights Movement here, whether it was in South Africa in 1976, when South African student walked out of schools—thousands and thousands of South African students—and reenergized the struggle to end apartheid. Children who died in the conflict, who are the sacrificial lambs for the conflict itself.”
To hear more from Glover and Rauniyar, click above.