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

Payal Kapadia won the Grand Prix at Cannes for 'All We Imagine as Light,' the first Indian entry in 30 years. Kapadia dedicated the award to the three leading ladies of the film and emphasized the importance of friendship and solidarity among women.

Livemint
Updated26 May 2024
Payal Kapadia, second from left , winner of the grand prize for 'All We Imagine as Light,' poses with Divya Prabha, from left, Chhaya Kadam and Kani Kusruti during the photo call following the awards ceremony at the 77th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 25, 2024. (Photo by Scott A Garfitt/Invision/AP)
Payal Kapadia, second from left , winner of the grand prize for ’All We Imagine as Light,’ poses with Divya Prabha, from left, Chhaya Kadam and Kani Kusruti during the photo call following the awards ceremony at the 77th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Saturday, May 25, 2024. (Photo by Scott A Garfitt/Invision/AP)(Scott A Garfitt/Invision/AP)

Payal Kapadia made history as the first Indian filmmaker to clinch the Grand Prix prize at the Cannes Film Festival for her movie “All We Imagine as Light.” 

This accolade, the festival's second-most prestigious award, was bestowed upon her film, while the coveted Palme d'Or was awarded to American director Sean Baker for his work “Anora,” ANI reported.

Kapadia's film, screened on Thursday night, marks the first Indian entry in 30 years and the first ever by a female Indian director to be featured in the main competition. The previous Indian film to be selected for the main competition was Shaji N Karun's "Swaham" in 1994.

Kapadia received the Grand Prix from American actor Viola Davis. In her speech, the filmmaker thanked the three leading ladies of the film -- Kani Kusruti, Divya Prabha and Chhaya Kadam -- and said the film would not have been possible without them.

"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," said Kapadia, who was accompanied by the three actors on the stage.

The director also gave a shout out to the festival workers who had protested at the opening night gala, demanding better wages and acknowledgement.

“All We Imagine as Light”

“All We Imagine as Light,” a Malayalam-Hindi feature film, follows Prabha, a nurse whose life is upended when she receives an unexpected gift from her long-estranged husband. Meanwhile, her younger roommate, Anu, struggles to find a private space in the bustling city to spend time alone with her boyfriend.

According to the storyline, the two nurses embark on a road trip to a beach town, where the mystical forest serves as a backdrop for their dreams to come true.

Also Read: Cannes kicks off with a Palme d'Or for Meryl Streep

Following its screening, the film emerged as a frontrunner for the top prize, garnering an eight-minute standing ovation and earning praise from international critics.

Baker's “Anora” was another favourite and ultimately walked away with the award. The film is a drama about a young Brooklyn sex worker who marries the son of a Russian oligarch, setting off a chain of events in the process for herself and the husband.

“All We Imagine as Light” marked the feature directorial debut of Kapadia, an alumna of the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII). Her acclaimed documentary “A Night of Knowing Nothing” had premiered at Director’s Fortnight in 2021 and won the Oeil d’or (Golden Eye) award.

Her short film “Afternoon Clouds” in Cinefondation, a category dedicated to supporting the next generation of talented filmmakers.

India won a major award in each of the three competitive sections of the 2024 Cannes Film Festival. On Thursday, “Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know...”, a film by FTII student Chidananda S. Naik, won the La Cinef first prize.

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

Anasuya Sengupta, a production designer with a significant onscreen role in Bulgarian director Konstantin Bojanov’s film "The Shameless" in the Un Certain Regard category, created history on Friday. She became the first Indian to win the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival.

The closing ceremony, hosted by French actor Camille Cottin, saw Jacques Audiard take home the Jury Prize for the musical crime comedy "Emilia Perez." The film also won the best actress honour for its four lead actresses: Adriana Paz, Zoe Saldaña, Karla Sofía Gascón, and Selena Gomez.

Jesse Plemons won the best actor honour for playing the trinity of characters -- a submissive businessman, a grieving police officer and a bisexual cult member -- Yorgos Lanthimos' “Kinds of Kindness".

The award for best director went to Portuguese film director Miguel Gomes for period drama movie “Grand Tour”.

Also Read: Cannes 2024: Celebrities who made a strong fashion statement

French filmmaker-writer won the Best Screenplay award for her body horror drama "The Substance," featuring Hollywood star Demi Moore.

Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof, who recently fled Iran after receiving an eight-year prison sentence, received the Special Award for Best Screenplay for his latest film "The Seed of the Sacred Fig."

Among other Indian films selected for the Cannes Competition segment were Mrinal Sen's "Kharij" (1983), 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).

(With inputs from ANI)

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