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Indian Film 'All We Imagine As Light' Wins Grand Prix At Cannes 2024

Writer-director Payal Kapadia's debut feature 'All We Imagine as Light' is the first Indian film to win the Grand Prix award at Cannes, the second-most prestigious prize of the festival after the Palme d'Or.

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Aashna Jain
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All We Imagine As Light, credit: AFP

Image Credit: AFP

Writer-director Payal Kapadia's debut feature 'All We Imagine as Light' is the first Indian film to win the Grand Prix award at Cannes, the second-most prestigious prize of the festival after the Palme d'Or. In her winning speech, Kapadia proudly stated, "Cannes, do not wait another thirty years to bring a film from India."

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After a prolonged wait of three decades, Indian cinema has finally secured a coveted position at the esteemed Cannes Film Festival. Writer-director Payal Kapadia's film, All We Imagine as Light, has been selected to feature in the festival's top competition slot, marking a historic moment for the Indian film industry. It is also one of the only four female-directed films to be competing for the Palme d'Or award this year. The trailer to the much-anticipated film was unveiled on May 8, promising a tale that weaves the desires and dreams of two women. 

Kapadia's nomination was announced during a press conference held in Paris on April 11, led by Iris Knobloch, the festival's president, and Thierry Fremaux, the general delegate. Her inclusion in the festival marks a significant decrease from the seven female directors featured in the previous year's competition.

All We Imagine as Light: Trailer, Details

All We Imagine As Light, an Indo-French collaboration, delves into the story of Prabha, a nurse, who receives an unexpected gift from her long-lost husband, stirring up feelings of unease within her. Meanwhile, her younger friend and roommate, Anu, embarks on a quest to find an isolated spot to be with her lover.

Eventually, the two women embark on a road trip to a beach town, where they discover a space for their dreams and desires to unfold. The film delves into the humble themes of womanhood and female relationships through everyday slices of life. Kapadia and the characters' female gaze shine through in several scenes. 

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all we imagine as light
Female gaze in the film | Images: All We Imagine As Light trailer, Screen International, Youtube

The Cannes competition features renowned filmmakers such as Francis Ford Coppola with Megalopolis, Sean Baker with Anora, and Yórgos Lánthimos with Kinds of Kindness, among others. Kapadia's entry underscores the diversity and richness of Indian cinema, showcasing its ability to captivate audiences on the global stage.

Kapadia is no stranger to Cannes, having previously made waves at the festival. Her documentary A Night of Knowing Nothing secured the prestigious Golden Eye award for best documentary during the 2021 edition. The Cannes Film Festival previously selected Shaji N. Karun's Swaha in 1994 to compete for the prestigious Palme d'Or. Additionally, in 1983, Mrinal Sen's Bengali film Kharij was featured in the Cannes Competition, earning recognition with the jury prize.

Who Is Payal Kapadia? Here Is All We Know About The Mumbai Based Filmmaker

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1. Payal Kapadia is a filmmaker and artist based in Mumbai. She went to the Film & Television Institute of India to study film direction.

2. Her website states that her art explores what is buried in "the folds of memory and dreams", and what is not clearly evident. Her technique is made up of "small, fleeting feminine gestures where she seeks to reach the truth".

3. Her first film Afternoon Cloud had its world premiere at Cinefondation (Cannes Film Festival, 2017). Kapadia was the only Indian who participated and competed at Cannes that year.

4. And What is the Summer Saying, her experimental documentary, made its global premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale Shorts, 2018). The film went on to win the Special Jury Prize at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival in 2018.

5. Kapadia's experimental short The Last Mango Before Monsoon was acclaimed with a FIPRESCI Prize along with a Special Jury Prize at the Oberhausen International Film Festival in 2015. The film won several other accolades, including Best Film and Best Editing awards at the Mumbai International Film Festival in 2016, as well as a Special Mention award at Filmadrid.

6. Kapadia is currently making headlines for All We Imagine as Light, which is her first feature film. She developed the film at the PJLF Three Rivers Residency in Rome.

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7. In 2019, the proficient filmmaker was chosen for the Cinefondation Cannes Residency as well as the Berlinale Talents Program.

8. Kapadia's Cannes presentation competed against Andrea Arnold's Cow, Marco Bellocchio's Marx Can Wait, Todd Haynes' The Velvet Underground and Rahul Jain’s Invisible Demons.

9. A Night of Knowing Nothing chronicles the narrative of a university girl in India who writes letters to her estranged lover. The official website of the Director's Fortnight's logline states that the viewers will get a sense of the significant changes taking on around the university student through her letters. “An amorphous story emerges, blending reality with fiction, dreams, memories, desires, and concerns," reads the logline

10. Talking about her choices of themes in her films, Kapadia told the Open The Magazine that she is at an age where apart from her profession "things like marriage, love and commitment are also in one’s face". "I use these characters to answer some of those questions," said Kapadia.

Payal Kapadia Indian Female Filmmaker All We Imagine As Light Cannes 2024
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