Payal Kapadia bags historic Grand Prix Award at Cannes Film Festival 2024 — All about the award-winning Indian filmmaker

Cannes 2024: Payal Kapadia made history by winning hers and the country's first Grand Prix Award for ‘All We Imagine As Light’ at the 77th Cannes Film Festival. She also became the first Indian female director, and the first Indian film in 30 years to compete in the festival's main competition.

Jocelyn Fernandes
First Published26 May 2024
Director Payal Kapadia, Grand Prix award winner for the film 'All We Imagine as Light' poses during a photocall after the closing ceremony of the 77th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France on May 25
Director Payal Kapadia, Grand Prix award winner for the film ’All We Imagine as Light’ poses during a photocall after the closing ceremony of the 77th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France on May 25(Reuters / Sarah Meyssonnier)

Cannes Film Festival 2024: Indian filmmaker Payal Kapadia made history on May 25, bagging hers and the country's first Grand Prix Award for the Malayalam-Hindi language film 'All We Imagine As Light', at the 77th Cannes Film Festival.

The Cannes Grand Prix is the second-highest accolade at the festival after the Palme d'Or. American director Sean Baker took home the top-most honour for Anora.

Also Read | Cannes 2024: Payal Kapadia becomes first Indian to clinch Grand Prix award for ‘All We Imagine as Light’

Notably, according to a PTI report, Kapadia became the first female director in India and the first Indian film in 30 years to compete in the festival's main competition. Shaji N Karun's 'Swaham' was selected for and competed in the main competition in 1994.

After its screening at the 77th Cannes Film Festival, the film received an eight-minute standing ovation and was billed as a potential winner by international critics in their reviews.

Who is Payal Kapadia?

The 38-year-old is no stranger to the global spotlight. While 'All We Imagine as Light' marks Kapadia's feature directorial debut, it is not her first time on the international stage.

In 2021, her critically acclaimed documentary A' Night of Knowing Nothing' premiered at the Cannes Film Festival's Director’s Fortnight and won the Oeil d’Or (Golden Eye) award. As per PTI, her short film 'Afternoon Clouds' was also screened in Cinefondation, a category dedicated to supporting the next generation of talented filmmakers.

Also Read | From Anasuya Sengupta's historic feat to Kusruti's clutch supporting Palestine- How Indian women dazzled at Cannes 2024

Speaking to PTI on April 17, Kapadia said the opportunity was "thrilling and humbling".

"Being selected for the Cannes Competition is truly thrilling and humbling, especially considering how much I admire many directors selected in this section, both in the past and present. It's an immense honour to be showing my film among them," Kapadia said.

An alumna of the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), Kapadia is also known for leading a four-month-protest against then-FTII Chairman Gajendra Chauhan in 2015, according to journalist Nidheesh MK.

She reportedly boycotted classes during the protest and faced disciplinary action, including a cut to her FTII grant.

'Please Don't Wait Another 30 Years', says Kapadia in Award Speech

Accepting the award from American actor Viola Davis, Kapadia thanked her heroines for making the film possible. All We Imagine As The Light starred Chhaya Kadam, Divya Prabha and Kani Kusruti in the leading roles.

"I'm very nervous, so I wrote something down. Thank you to the Cannes Film Festival for having our film here. Please don't wait 30 years to have another Indian film. This film is about friendship, about three very different women. Oftentimes, women are pitted against each other. This is the way our society is designed, and it is really unfortunate. But for me, friendship is a very important relationship because it can lead to greater solidarity, inclusivity and empathy," Kapadia said.

Track | Latest News Today Live Updates May 26, 2024: Cannes 2024: Payal Kapadia becomes first Indian to clinch Grand Prix award for ‘All We Imagine as Light’

All We Imagine as Light follows nurse Prabha, 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 where she can be alone with her boyfriend. The two take a road trip to a beach town where the mystical forest becomes a space for their dreams to manifest, PTI said about the movie plot.

Speaking to AFP on May 24, Kapadia noted that few Indian filmmakers submit their work to festivals. "The Indian industry is quite self-contained so a lot of filmmakers don't even feel the need to send their work to festivals. But if you want to make a smaller film that's not so narrative-focused or doesn't work with the industry set-up, it's difficult to find funds, so the French system really helped me a lot," she said.

'All We Imagine As Light' is an Indo-French co-production between petit chaos (France) and Chalk and Cheese Films (India).

(With inputs from Agencies)

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