A still from 'All We Imagine as Light'
(Petit Chaos/Chalk and Cheese Films)

Cannes Standout ‘All We Imagine as Light’ Symbolizes an Independent Filmmaker’s Win Against All Odds

Payal Kapadia’s All We Imagine as Light had a historic screening at Cannes, drawing considerable fanfare. The film ended up winning the Grand Prix, regarded as the second-most revered prize after the Palm d’Or.

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A co-production between India, France, the Netherlands, Italy, and Luxembourg, the film has not had its release date revealed yet. The production companies involved are Petit Chaos, Chalk and Cheese Films, BALDR Film, Les Films Fauves, Another Birth, Pulpa Films, and Arte France Cinema. The North American rights for the movie are with Janus Films and distribution partner Sideshow, which they acquired on May 20.

Kani Kusruti (Biriyaani) and Divya Prabha (Ariyippu), who portray the leads Prabha and Anu, respectively, lead the cast. Hridu Haroon and Indian veteran actress Chhaya Kadam appear in supporting roles. The story follows two nurses living in Mumbai who are troubled by their relationships, and how their decision to embark on a road trip to a beach town helps them “find a space for their desires to manifest.”

While Payal Kapadia is drawing international acclaim for All We Imagine as Light, her journey to reach there hasn’t been straightforward. Kapadia was a student of FTII Pune (Film and Television Institute of India), against whom she was involved in multiple disciplinary actions. In 2015, the writer-director led a student protest against the appointment of a politician-actor as the film school’s chairman, citing the former TV actor’s lack of “vision,” which made him unfit to be the authoritative figure at the prestigious institution. Scholarships for Kapadia and other students were pulled following this incident.

During the same year, Indian police took action against Kapadia and 35 other students for holding their director captive in his office for his decision to assess the incomplete projects of students from the 2008 batch. As a result of these two events, Kapadia has endured a significant backlash from her alma mater, and her coming this far is a testament to both her strong will and talent.


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