When Sergio Basso first visited Khudunabari refugee camp in Nepal as part of the International Civil Service in 2007, he experienced a wave of dissonance. How had he never heard of the place before, the decade-long home for tens of thousands of Bhutanese Lhotshampa people, brutalized by police and targeted by a government ethnic-cleansing campaign since 1990?

Sarita is his attempt to come to terms with this knowledge. After throwing out footage for a more conventional documentary, Basso has instead made an educational musical, one revolving around a cast of students for whom Khudunabari is the only home they’ve ever known.

Thirteen-year-old Sarita (Sasha Biswas) plays a dual role: a protagonist in her own drama, and an interviewer standing in for Basso. She wants to know what’s behind the displacement of her family, the resettlement offers to Scandinavia and North America, and the fickle attention of foreign cameras. As in any musical, songs allow Sarita to say the unsayable, pushing against both the Bhutanese government’s suppression of history and the isolation of her people’s struggle.


Includes an interview with Director: Sergio Basso

North American premiere
Director Icon Director
Sergio Basso

Sasha Biswas
Producer Alessandro Borrelli
Screenwriter Sergio Basso
Cinematographer Rabin Acharya
Editor Eric Schefter
Music Pivio & Aldo De Scalzi
Production Company La Sarraz Pictures, Rai Cinema
Source La Sarraz Pictures
Italy/Germany 2019 89 min. Nepali with English subtitles Official Website | Trailer | Article | Instagram
Presented by
Community Partners


Please note that VIFF 2020 online films can be viewed in British Columbia only.

Basso, Sergio headshot


With an MA in Chinese and Classics, and a PhD in Byzantine Philology, Sergio Basso is a genuine polymath. In addition to shooting films (documentary and animation) he directs for theatre, and writes books and video games. An expert on China, he worked as an assistant to Gianni Amelio on The Missing Star (2006) and has directed documentaries for Chinese TV. His first feature was Elementary Lovers (2014).

Elementary Lovers (2014)