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Cannes 2024 – It’s a wrap – winners all the way… Brits and Indians making waves this year… (gallery)

Cannes 2024 – It’s a wrap – winners all the way… Brits and Indians making waves this year… (gallery)

🎥 Four films about India featured in official selections this year (All We Imagine as Light; The Shameless; Santosh; and Sister Midnight)

🎥 Two won prizes and both created history

🎥 ‘All We Imagine as Light’ won Grand Prix, first since 1946, and first Indian film in Competition since 1994 (‘Swaham’ Shaji N Karun)

🎥 Actor Anasuya Sengupta wins for Best Female Performance for ‘The Shameless’ in Un Certain Regard section

🎥 Indian cinematographer Santosh Sivan awarded prestigious Pierre Angénieux Tribute award by French professional lens maker

🎥 Two student films – one by Indian Chidananda S Naik ‘Sunflowers were the first ones to know’ and another by Indian Mansi Maheshwari at film school in the UK, ‘Bunnyhood’, picked up the top prize and third, respectively in the La Cinef section, which spotlights official film school entries.

IT WAS A PHENOMENAL Cannes for India (and for Kerala too), and a good one too for British Asian writer-directors.

Payal Kapadia writer-director Grand Prix winner for ‘All We Imagine as Light’

While India triumphed in the main Competition section with Payal Kapadia’s ode to Mumbai and the Maharashtra-Konkan seaside (Ratnagiri) in ‘All We Imagine As Light’ picking up the Grand Prix prize and only just behind the top Palme d’Or, for Sean Baker’s ‘Anora’, two other Indian productions were featured in the Un Certain Regard and Directors’ Fortnight selections, respectively.

We have reviews of all films now on the site and each film has huge merits – at the time of going to press it wasn’t certain that ‘All We Imagine as Light’ had a deal to be distributed in the UK but it tied up many European territories in Cannes itself.

The other three films will almost certainly get releases here in the UK – not least because two are British Film Institute(BFI)/BBC/Film4 productions.

The odd one out is our favourite film of the Indian selection – ‘The Shameless’ and almost certainly of the wider fare we saw – (‘The Girl with the Needle’, ‘Megalopolis’, ‘The Apprentice’ and ‘Emilia Perez’, ‘Motel Destino’).

The Shameless’ holds little back as Bulgarian director Konstantin Bojanov goes for the jugular in a film about prostitution, patriarchy, politics and religion.

All We Imagine lead actors; Chhaya Kadam, Divya Prabha
and Kani Kusruti – Film press conference

We found Bojanov an interesting personality in his own right and he has imbued a lot of Indian culture and says so – and his actors also testify that this is not some fly-by-night director who has parachuted into India for some kind of vanity project.

Simply making ‘The Shameless’ and raising the money to do that was hard enough – the accolades on top are tremendous and very well deserved. This is South Asian indie filmmaking at its best and there are parallels to Pakistan’s ‘Joyland’ (2022) and ‘In Flames’ (2023).

Where ‘The Shameless’ will run into issues is in its overt politics – the villain appears to be from a Hindu Nationalist organisation and some groups will see this as blatant Western ‘Hinduphobia’ – considering the director is from the West and white.

Anasuya Sengupta Best Female Performance Un Certain Regard – ‘The Shameless

Bojanov’s film deserves to be widely seen and in India too, not just for Sengupta’s thrilling turn as Renuka, a lady of the night, who makes her own rules and lives by them – and is is a real tour de force and a reminder that there is great acting talent in India – all the performances in these Indian films was of a very high standard. It’s great to see someone like Chhaya Kadam (both in ‘Sister Midnight’ as the neighbour and co-worker to Prabha (Kusruti) and Anu (Prabha) Parvaty in ‘All We Imagine as Light’) get the limelight they deserve.

Hopefully the artistic strength of ‘The Shameless’ will overcome any obstacles.

Both Brits, Sandhya Suri and Karan Kandhari can bask in the critical acclaim at Cannes for ‘Santosh’ and ‘Sister Midnight’ respectively.

Santosh’ just like the other three films at Cannes centres women characters, and it is their moral dilemmas that take centre stage.

Santosh Sivan Pierre Pierre Angénieux Tribute award

We agonised somewhat about the ‘western gaze’ in our review of the film, and how such films as ‘Santosh’ play out in India – its targets are a little obvious and predictable, but it is a good film and Suri is a filmmaker to watch.

So too is Kandhari, whose visual inventiveness and idiosyncratic vision in ‘Sister Midnight’ reminds one of US director Wes Anderson. Kandhari’s palate though is informed by lower middle class Mumbai – and his macabre comic tale deserves to find an audience in India – who should be inspired by its imagination and rich possibilities. Radhika Apte as Uma is extremely good and again almost worth the ticket price in itself.

Finally, beyond the films too, was the towering genius that is Santosh Sivan and rightly recognised for his long service to the art of cinematography. He spoke of his work ‘Roja’ (1992) and his own international multi-award winning, ‘The Terrorist’ (1998). It was the year before that he worked on ‘Dil Se’ – iconic for that train song sequence he shot accompanied by AR Rahman’s unforgettable music.

An emotional Sandhya Suri, writer-director behind ‘Santosh‘ which screened in the UCR section

It was especially thrilling for us to spend some time with his discussing his career and working relationships with both music impresario Rahman (and before that IIaiyaraaja) and director Mani Ratnam ahead of his Pierre Angénieux Tribute award which came near the end of the festival. We suspect that he will be back in Cannes in another capacity soon.

Sivan hails from Kerala, as do the leads in ‘All We Imagine as Light’ – Kani Kusruti and Divya Prabha. Kapadia in her winners press conference spoke about the strength of regional cinema in India and Kerala cinema is among the strongest.

How many of our video interviews from Cannes have you watched?

They are all interesting and all have something to say about the state of filmmaking both in Britain and India and in the West more generally and also about Cannes’ own relationships with all that. We interviewed some interesting personalities in Cannes from Hollywood hotshot producer Ashok Amitraj to Vishy Ayyar making his big onscreen debut in ‘American Underdog’ – there are 23 videos in all and still a few more to come as Brigitte Leloire Kerackian and Associate Editor Suman Bhuchar join Editor Sailesh Ram in discussing to camera – the films they saw in Cannes.

Writer-director Karan Kandhari whose ‘Sister Midnight‘ featured in the Directors’ Fortnight section

Will there be as many films next year? We somehow doubt it…in 2012 our last on a personal level before acv was created, there were three films from India, (‘Gangs of Wasseypur,’ ‘Peddlers’, and ‘Miss Lovely’), the following year just ‘The Lunchbox‘, arguably the most successful international non-Bollywood hit from India.

Next year we are planning to celebrate 10 years of making videos at the Cannes Film Festival in 2025 – if you want to be kept up to date on that and other celebratory events in late 2024 – sign up here to find out more…

Join us and don’t miss out –


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Written by Asian Culture Vulture