Payal Kapadia’s ‘All We Imagine as Light’ wins Grand Prix award at Cannes 2024

The Malayalam-Hindi feature is about Prabha, a nurse, who receives an unexpected gift from her long-estranged husband that throws her life into disarray, and her younger roommate Anu.


Published May 26, 2024 | 12:49 AMUpdatedMay 26, 2024 | 2:18 PM

Kani Kusruti and Divya Prabha in 'All We Imagine as Light'. (Unifrance)

Filmmaker Payal Kapadia on Saturday, 25 May, scripted history as her spellbinding drama, “All We Imagine as Light”, won the Grand Prix award at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival.

The film bagged the award, which is the second-most prestigious prize of the festival after the Palme d’Or, during the closing ceremony of the 77th edition.

Kapadia’s feature directorial debut, which screened on Thursday night and has received glowing reviews in the international press, already registered its name in the history books after it became the first Indian film in 30 years, and the first ever by an Indian female director to be showcased in the main competition.

The film received an eight-minute standing ovation from the audience members.

Related: Kani Kusruti makes a bold statement with her clutch at Cannes

Poetic take on life

“All We Imagine as Light”, a Malayalam-Hindi feature, is about Prabha, a nurse, who receives an unexpected gift from her long-estranged husband that throws her life into disarray.

Payal Kapadia. (Creative Commons)

Payal Kapadia. (Creative Commons)

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 Malayali 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.

Kani Kusruti and Divya Prabha portrayed Prabha and Anu, respectively. Chhaya Kadam and Hridhu Haroon also played major roles in the movie.

International critics have given the film a thumbs up and praised Kapadia’s storytelling prowess.

An alumna of the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), Kapadia 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.

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

Second Indian film in 30 years

“All We Imagine As Light” is an Indo-French co-production between Petit Chaos from France and Chalk and Cheese Films from India.

The film is the second India movie in 30 years after Shaji N Karun’s “Swaham” in 1994, to feature in the festival’s main section in 30 years.

The main competition jury was chaired by filmmaker Greta Gerwig and also included Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona, Turkish actor-screenwriter Ebru Ceylan, Italian actor Pierfrancesco Favino, American actor Lily Gladstone, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, Lebanese actor-director Nadine Labaki and French stars Eva Green and French actor Omar Sy.

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