New Delhi, Jul 18 (FN Bureau) Mumbai-born filmmaker Payal Kapadi’s debut film, ‘A Night of Knowing Nothing’, on Saturday won the Golden Eye Award for the best documentary at the Cannes film festival. The film, which is set in the backdrop of student protests in the country, beat competition from 27 other films in the Cannes official selection, Directors’ Fortnight and the Critics’ Week. A graduate in direction from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Kapadia was part of the Directors’ Fortnight selection this year. Previous winners of the Golden Eye Award, presented by the Civil Society of Multimedia Authors (SCAM) in collaboration with the Cannes festival, include Chilean documentary director Patricio Guzman and French filmmaker Agnes Varda.
“I am really honoured to get this prize as there have been wonderful filmmakers who have got it in the past,” Kapadia told UNI from Cannes. “Our film is quite experimental so we were a bit surprised too,” she added. Ukranian director Sergeï Loznitsa’s ‘Babir Yar, Context’ won the Golden Eye Award jury’s Special Mention. The Golden Eye jury, headed by American documentary producer Ezra Edelman, cited ‘A Night of Knowing Nothing’ for its “artistic vision that blended the personal and the political in a fascinating way”. “For a debut feature, this makes it even more surprising,” the citation said. Among the 28 films vying for the Golden Eye Award this year were American director Oliver Stone’s ‘JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass’, ‘Cow’ by British director Andrea Arnold, ‘The Velvet Underground’ by American director Todd Haynes, and ‘Marx Can Wait’ by Italian filmmaker Marco Bellocchio.
Delhi-born documentary director Rahul Jain’s ‘Invisible Demons’, the only Indian film in Cannes official selection this year, was also among the films in contention for the Golden Eye Award. Part of the feature films programme of the Directors’ Fortnight this year, ‘A Night of Knowing Nothing’ fuses fiction and documentary in the story of a university student writing letters to her estranged lover. “This poetic first feature is at first an epistolary film but then slowly spread out as a hybrid narration mixing dreams, reality, memories and archives. The young Indian director Payal Kapadia transcends the documentary material and draws the portrait of a contemporary Indian youth,” says Directors’ Fortnight artistic director Paolo Moretti. Another Indian film, ‘The Cinema Travellers’ by Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya, had won a special jury mention at the Golden Eye Award in 2017.