Filmmaker Payal Kapadia has scripted history by bagging the Oeil d'Or (Golden Eye) award for the Best Documentary for A Night of Knowing Nothing on July 17 at the 74th Cannes Film Festival.
A Night of Knowing Nothing is the Mumbai-based filmmaker’s debut, which competed with 28 other documentaries in the festival. Kapadia’s film was screened as part of the Directors’ Fortnight, a section organised in parallel to the festival.
The award was introduced by LaScam, the French-Speaking Writers’ Society, and Bertuccelli in association with the general delegate Thierry Fremaux, the Cannes Film Festival, and the general in 2015. The other selections included The Velvet Underground, directed by Todd Haynes, Cow directed by
Andrea Arnold, JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass directed by Oliver Stone, Marx Can Wait directed by Marco Bellocchio, Babi Yar directed by Sergei Loznitsa and Invisible Demons by Rahul Jain to name some. The announcement for the prize was made by the official Twitter handle of Director’s Fortnight on Saturday.
A Night of Knowing Nothing revolves around a university student in India in the backdrop of student protests. The student pens letters to her estranged lover while the two are separated by miles. The letters act as windows to the world around her as it changes, blending ‘reality with fiction, memories, fantasies and anxieties.’
In a statement to United News of India, Kapadia said that it was an honour for her to receive the prize and to share in the achievement of the ‘wonderful filmmakers’ who have got it to date. She added that the win came as a surprise for her since the ‘film is quite experimental.’
Kapadia is a Film & Television Institute (FTII) graduate. She has directed the short film And What is the Summer Saying and the 2015 short Last Mango Before the Monsoon before. This is her second outing at the Cannes Film Festival after her short film Afternoon Clouds was shown in the Cinefondation section in 2017.