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‘All We Imagine As Light’ is 1st Indian film in Cannes official selection in 40 yrs


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Indian filmmaker Payal Kapadia’s All We Imagine As Light on Thursday scripted history by becoming the first Indian title in over 40 years to feature in the prestigious Competition section of the Cannes Film Festival, where it will vie for the top prize Palme d’Or.

Iris Knobloch, president of the Cannes Festival, and Thierry Fremaux, General Delegate, announced the official selection line-up for the 2024 edition of the gala at a press conference streamed live from Cannes, France.

Besides Kapadia, British-Indian filmmaker Sandhya Suri’s Santosh will also be showcased at the 77th edition of the film gala. The movie will be screened under the Un Certain Regard section.

Kapadia’s All We Imagine As Light will be presented under the main segment alongside 19 other highly anticipated titles, including films from master directors Francis Ford Coppola (Megalopolis) and Yorgos Lanthimos (Kinds of Kindness).

Oh Canada by Paul Schrader, Bird by Andrea Arnold, The Shrouds by David Cronenberg, and Anora by Sean Baker are also part of the main Competition slate.

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Kapadia, an alumna of the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), is best known for her acclaimed documentary A Night of Knowing Nothing, which premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival’s Director’s Fortnight side-bar where it won the Oeil d’or (Golden Eye) award.

All We Imagine As Light, also written by Kapadia, marks her narrative feature debut.

The film is about Prabha, a nurse, who receives an unexpected gift from her long-estranged husband that throws her life into disarray. Her younger roommate, Anu, tries in vain to find a private spot in the big city to be alone with her boyfriend.

One day the two nurses go on a road trip to a beach town where the mystical forest becomes a space for their dreams to manifest, according to the plotline.

Writer-lyricist Varun Grover and filmmaker Anurag Kashyap congratulated Kapadia on the selection.

“HUGE moment for Indian cinema. Cracking Cannes main competition for an Indian film is so rare an event that it happens only once (if at all) in the life of a generation. Go Payal Kapadia and team!” Grover, who made his directorial debut All India Rank recently, wrote on X.

Kashyap, who is a regular presence at Cannes, shared a screenshot of the announcement on his Instagram Stories.

“Indian film at competition in @festivaldecannes Congratulations Payal Kapadia!” he captioned the post.

The last Indian film to compete for the coveted Palme d’Or award was legendary filmmaker Mrinal Sen’s Kharij in 1983. Before that, films like M. S. Sathyu’s Garm Hava (1974), Satyajit Ray’s Parash Pathar (1958), Raj Kapoor’s Awaara (1953), V Shantaram’s Amar Bhoopali (1952) and Chetan Anand’s Neecha Nagar (1946) were selected for Cannes Competition segment.

Neecha Nagar is the only Indian film ever to win the top honour at Cannes back in 1946. At the time, the award was known as Grand Prix du Festival International du Film.

Suri’s Santosh will compete alongside 14 other movies in the Un Certain Regard, which runs parallel to the main competition.

The Hindi-language film, a character-driven neo-noir story set in the hinterlands of north India, is a UK-European co-production and stars Shahana Goswami.

Quentin Dupieux’s The Second Act is the opening film at the 77th edition.

The film gala will run through May 14 to May 25.


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