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‘All We Imagine As Light’ shines at Cannes, garners rave reviews

Payal Kapadia and her team made a splash on the Cannes red carpet; film gets an eight-minute standing ovation

‘All We Imagine As Light’ shines at Cannes, garners rave reviews
[Source photo: Getty]

Payal Kapadia’s Malayalam-Hindi language feature All We Imagine As Light opened to rave reviews at its world premiere in Cannes on Thursday.

The landmark film, which made history as the first Indian entry at the festival’s competition category in over three decades, is a serious contender for the coveted Palme d’Or.

An eight-minute standing ovation following the premiere of All We Imagine As Light, one of the longest this season, pointed to the impact that it had on the audience.

The film follows the story of two Malayali nurses, Prabha and Anu, who live in Mumbai and are going through relationship troubles of their own. A getaway to a beach town then catapults them towards a different direction.

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw left a five-star review for the film, saying, “Kapadia’s storytelling has something of Satyajit Ray’s The Big City and Days and Nights of the Forest; it is so fluent and absorbing.”

Jessica Kianf of Variety termed the film a “glowing portrait of urban connection and unexpected sisterhood.”

Kapadia’s film is competing with works from legendary directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Paul Schrader, Yorgos Lanthimos, and David Cronenberg, alongside other notable nominees including French filmmakers Coralie Fargeat and Agathe Riedinger, and English filmmaker Andrea Arnold.

Kapadia is no stranger to Cannes, having previously won the Golden Eye (L’Œil d’or) — the prize for the best documentary — in 2021 for her film, A Night of Knowing Nothing. At the 2017 Cannes film festival, her film Afternoon Clouds also stood out as the sole Indian selection.

The film’s cast and crew made a big splash at the red carpet, dancing their way through the otherwise stressful experience, amid rows of flashing cameras.

Kapadia appeared at Cannes alongside her cast, including Chhaya Kadam, known for her recent roles in Laapataa Ladies and Madgaon Express. The ensemble also featured Kani Kusruti, who made a statement with a watermelon clutch symbolizing solidarity with Palestine, as well as Divya Prabha, Hridhu Haroon, cinematographer Ranabir Das, and producers Julien Graff, Zico Maitra, and Thomas Hakim.

Indian films and filmmakers have had a successful run in this edition of the French film festival, with filmmaker Chidananda S Naik’s Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know winning the top prize for the best short film, while Mansi Maheshwari’s Bunnyhood took home the third prize in the same category.

British-Indian filmmakers Sandhya Suri and Karan Kandhari are also enjoying the limelight as the former’s feature Santosh is nominated for the Un Certain Regard Award, while the latter’s Sister Midnight is screening as a part of the Director’s Fortnight selection.

The festival began on 14 May with the revered actress Meryl Streep being awarded the honorary Palme d’Or, given to her by legendary French actress Juliette Binoche.

Helmed by Barbie director Greta Gerwig, the Cannes jury will dive into an eclectic selection this year, with a diverse list of 22 contenders for the Palme d’Or.

The Cannes Film Festival concludes on Saturday, 25 May, with the closing ceremony where the winners, including the prestigious Palme d’Or, will be announced.


Shireen Khan is a Senior Correspondent at Press Insider. She covers lifestyle, culture, and health. More

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