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When Grand Prix Winner Payal Kapadia Lost Her Grant During Protests at FTII

Payal Kapadia's film 'All We Imagine As Light' won the Grand Prix at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival.

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Indian filmmaker Payal Kapadia scripted history at the 77th Cannes Film Festival with her debut feature All We Imagine As Light. The film, starring Kani Kusruti, Divya Prabha, Chhaya Kadam, and Hridhu Haroon among others, won the festival’s second-highest honour, the Grand Prix award.

Payal Kapadia's film 'All We Imagine As Light' won the Grand Prix at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival.

A still from All We Imagine As Light. 

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Kapadia was a student at India’s Film and Television Institute (FTII) and, in 2015, was one of the students who faced disciplinary action after a four-month protest.

A 139-Day Protest at FTII, Pune

That year, the students of FTII held a protest against the appointment of actor-turned-politician Gajendra Chauhan. The protest lasted for over 130 days but on the 68th day, the then FTII director Prashant Pathrabe had issued an order to the students of the 2008 batch to vacate their hostels. After students gheraoed Pathrabe to demand a hold on their assessments, the Pune Police arrested multiple students.

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Speaking to The Quint, FTII students had said that they had to make a move like the gherao as the standard procedure of assessment wasn’t followed. Pathrabe had presented a notice to the students to assess their incomplete projects. While five students were arrested, 35 were named in the charge sheet, including Payal Kapadia, according to the Indian Express.

Hindustan Times had also reported that, as part of the disciplinary action, Kapadia lost her scholarship and her chance to participate in the foreign exchange programme.

Payal Kapadia’s ‘Afternoon Clouds’ Was Selected for Cannes in 2017

In 2017, Kapadia’s short film Afternoon Clouds – following conversations between a 70-year-old widow and her domestic help – was selected for Cannes. FTII had then issued a letter of support and offered to cover Kapadia’s travel expenses.

Payal Kapadia's film 'All We Imagine As Light' won the Grand Prix at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival.

A still from Afternoon Clouds.

(Photo Courtesy: Vimeo)

With reference to the film, Kapadia was quoted by Indian Express as stating, “We owe a lot to public education to make us the filmmakers we are… Universities are spaces of freedom. This is why we needed to make this film. As students who have been part of them, it is our responsibility to protect what they stand for so that the next generation can benefit.”

Kapadia’s documentary A Night of Knowing Nothing told the story of a student writing letters to her partner all while exploring student protests in India. It went on to win the Best Documentary award at the 2021 Cannes.

Payal Kapadia’s Historic Win at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival

After Kapadia’s historic win at the 2024 Cannes, the official FTII X (formerly Twitter) account posted, “It is a moment of pride for FTII as its Alumni create history at Cannes. As we witness a phenomenal year for Indian Cinema at 77th Cannes Film Festival, FTII cherishes the glorious achievements of its Alumni at this Mega International Stage of Cinema.”

Payal Kapadia's film 'All We Imagine As Light' won the Grand Prix at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival.

Payal Kapadia’s win makes her the first Indian filmmaker to win the Grand Prix award at the Cannes film festival. It also marks the first time in 30 years that an Indian film was selected for the competition section.

(With inputs from Indian Express)

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