See Wisconsin Film Festival Selection SANZARU for Free!

October 22, 2020 - 4:10pm
Posted by Jim Healy


The Cinematheque's free series of view-at-home movies continues with another selection of the 2020 Wisconsin Film Festival, the chilling and evocative Sanzaru, directed by Wisconsin native Xia Magnus. Sanzaru made its world premiere earlier in 2020 at the Slamdance Film Festival.

SANZARU (USA, 2020, 88 min.) Strange things start happening on a run-down Texas ranch where a young Filipina nurse (Aina Dumlao) works as a live-in caregiver for an elderly matriarch (Jayne Taini) slipping into dementia. This deeply unsettling modern day gothic marks the feature directorial debut of Xia Magnus whose prize-winning short films have been featured in other recent Wisconsin Film Festivals. Magnus establishes a mood of quiet dread right from the start, and as the screws tighten in this well constructed slow-burner, the atmosphere becomes almost unbearably tense. Gorgeously photographed by Mark Khalifé and featuring a note-perfect lead performance by Dumlao, Sanzaru expertly balances traditional genre thrills and chills with a deeper, more contemporary examination of the complications that result from buried secrets and repressed childhood trauma. (Ben Reiser)

Beginning October 22 for a limited time, the Cinematheque is providing an opportunity to watch Sanzaru for free at home. To receive access, simply send an email to, and make sure to include the word SANZARU in the subject line. 

On a new episode of our Cinematalk podcast, the Cinematheque's Ben Reiser talks to Xia Magnus about his approach to storytelling, his horror film inspirations, filming in Texas, and working with his Mom. Listen below or subscribe to Cinematalk here through Apple Podcasts.