A NIGHT OF KNOWING NOTHING

  • Payal Kapadia
  • India
  • 2021

Letters are found in a box at a film school in Mumbai. Written by film student L. to her lover K., they provide the emotional framework for this exploration of incredible injustices and youth activism in contemporary India. As L. reads her letters, a situation that is both specific and universal arises. Their relationship crosses castes, and L. is ultimately abandoned by K.; From the moment they are no longer addressed to him, the letters are no longer read out in Hindi but in Bengali. They are characterized by despair over the worsening political situation.

After several short films, this feature debut announces Payal Kapadia as one of today's great poetic filmmakers. Neither purely documentary nor fictional, her collage-like filmic montage includes newspaper clippings, scribbles and old footage, shot in dreamy black and white on 16mm. Just as the film doesn't shy away from visually foregrounding darkness, Silence appears as an ellipse, with this absence expressing so much with great urgency. There are bright spots in between, and the strength of the protesting students conveys hope and solidarity. Ultimately, A Night of Knowing Nothing is a devoted tribute to cinema, filmmaking, and the resilience of those who dedicate their lives to film. Viennale catalog/Michelle Carey

  • Payal Kapadia

    Payal Kapadia is a Mumbai-based filmmaker and artist. She studied film directing at the Film & Television Institute of India. Her short films Afternoon Clouds(2017) and And What Is The Summer Saying (2018) premiered at the Cinéfondation and the Berlinale. She is a Berlinale Talents Alumna and participated in the Cinéfondation - Résidence du Festival de Cannes in 2019. Her first feature film, A Night Of Knowing Nothing, was nominated for the Director's Fortnight of the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Oeil d'or (Golden Eye) for Best Documentary. She is currently preparing her next project All We Imagine As Light, supported by CICLIC, Hubert's Bals Fun & PJLF Arts Fund.

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