Art & Entertainment

'All We Imagine As Light': All You Need To Know About Payal Kapadia's Film That Clinched The Grand Prix At Cannes 2024

Payal Kapadia scripted history with her film, 'All We Imagine As Light,' which won the Grand Prix Award at Cannes Film Festival 2024.

'All We Imagine As Light' at Cannes 2024 Photo: Instagram

Payal Kapadia’s ‘All We Imagine As Light,’ the first Indian film to compete at Cannes Film Festival in 30 years, created a significant buzz during its world premiere at the festival on Thursday, earning praise from all attendees. Days later, on Saturday night, it scripted history as it clinched the Grand Prix Award—the second highest honour after Palme d’Or.

Before making their way to the premiere of the film—where it received a resounding eight-minute standing ovation—the film’s cast and crew were beaming with smiles on the red carpet. The entire team, including Kapadia, Kani Kusruti, Divya Prabha, Hridhu Haroon, and Chhaya Kadam, radiated joy as they ascended the steps of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, even breaking into dance on their way to the theatre. Their infectious energy captivated the attention of everyone present. However, apart from the movie, what caught everyone’s gaze was Kusruti’s gesture of solidarity with Palestine through her choice of handbag. Recently, the watermelon has emerged as a symbol of support, as its colours—red, green, and black seeds—echo those found on the Palestinian flag.

Additionally, ‘All We Imagine As Light’ made history. The film is India’s first entry into the main competition since ‘Swaham’ in 1994, with Kapadia also being the first Indian female filmmaker to achieve this milestone. Even though the film lost to Sean Baker’s ‘Anora’ in the competition category, the filmmaker expressed pride in demonstrating to the world that Indian cinema has more to offer outside of Bollywood. Also, the film’s victory with the Grand Prix makes it the first Indian film to receive this honour.

An alumna of the prestigious Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), Payal Kapadia is best known internationally for her documentary, ‘A Night of Knowing Nothing,’ which screened in Director’s Fortnight section at Cannes in 2021, where it won the Golden Eye Award.

“India is a country that makes a lot of good films. Not just Bollywood, but every state has its industry and there are absolutely brilliant filmmakers. I hope that after this we won’t have to wait another 30 years,” the director told Deadline, further adding, “I’m excited and really we’re just happy that our film got selected. We didn’t expect it and it’s an honour because there are so many filmmakers in the section that I really admire.”

As per the official Festival de Cannes website, the Indo-French production is based in Mumbai, where “Nurse Prabha’s routine is troubled when she receives an unexpected gift from her estranged husband. Her younger roommate, Anu, tries in vain to find a spot in the city to be intimate with her boyfriend. A trip to a beach town allows them to find a space for their desires to manifest.”

Critics from the West have lauded the film. As per Variety, “Few films have ever so beautifully captured the lonesome romance of Mumbai after dark.” BBC stated that the movie is “universal and emotional enough to hypnotize anyone who has been alone in a city, or been spellbound by a film on the subject.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Its story of women looking for love and happiness in a calamitous world brings to mind those popular Mumbai-set movies, in which heroines suffer plenty of heartbreak before things eventually work out.” The Guardian described it to be “glorious… an absorbing story full of humanity.”

With this, ‘All We Imagine As Light’ has marked a historic achievement for Indian cinema at Cannes. With its universal appeal and critical acclaim, the film solidifies Kapadia’s position as a promising filmmaker.