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Sundance Film Festival 2024 (wrap): Indian films win prizes – ‘Girls will be Girls’ and ‘Nocturnes’

Sundance Film Festival 2024 (wrap): Indian films win prizes  – ‘Girls will be Girls’ and ‘Nocturnes’

A sexual coming of age drama and one about moths in the Himalayas impressed both judges and audiences at the leading independent cinema US-based film festival…

TWO INDIAN films which enjoyed world premieres at the Sundance Film Festival bagged awards at the annual gathering of indie film talent.

Most impressively, India’s record of having documentaries win prizes was maintained with ‘Nocturnes’ – about Hawk Moths in the Eastern Himalayas. It won the World Documentary Special Jury Award for Craft. Last year it was Shaunak Sen’s ‘All That Breathes’ – which went to Cannes and ended up at the Oscars last year. The year before that was ‘Against the Tide’ and then ‘Writing with Fire’.

Nocturnes filmmakers: Anupama Srinivasan and Anirban Dutta
(see below for credit)

‘Nocturnes directed by Anirban Dutta and Anupuma Srinivasan, Sundance noted about the film, “In the dark of night, two curious observers shine a light on this secret universe”.

The Jury citation reads: “The images and sound in this film immediately invoke in the audience a meditative state as they enter the film’s world, at the same time bringing a laser focus to the film’s main subject. The confidence of the cinematography and sound design in building this story is part of its power and allure.”

Both filmmakers behind ‘Nocturnes’ were present at the award ceremony and Srinavasan said: “This film is not a typical Indian film. This award is acknowledgement that people from our part of the world can also make films like this – we don’t have to make one particular kind of film that is expected from South Asia.” Dutta devoted the prize to his kids and said: “We always believed – and we wanted to create an experience through our cinema.”

Brit Nainita Desai composed the original score and the film was sold pre-Sundance to London based Dogwoof for world sales.

The narrative fiction feature, ‘Girls will be Girls’, set in a posh Himalayan boarding school, won an Audience Award in the World Dramatic Competition section. There was also a Special Jury award for its lead actor, Preeti Panigrahi.

The Sundance Jury citation for Panigrahi reads: “This luminous performance completely moved and surprised us, bringing to life a character with intelligence and vulnerability.

“In a film that dared to explore young female sexuality and agency with frankness and sweetness, this performance was delicate, uncompromising, and unforgettable.”

Produced by two Bollywood stars, Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal, and their production outfit, Pushing Buttons Studios, the film is directed by feature debutant, India-raised now US based, Shuchi Tulati, who was at university with Chadha and became friends there. Tulati says the film is about a girl’s sexual awakening and involves a love interest Sri (Kesav Binoy Kiron) and this becomes something of a flashpoint with Mira’s (Panigrahi) mother Anila (Kani Kusruti). Chadha was emotional in her acceptance speech, saying this was the first time they had entered into the foray of producing and just being at Sundance was wonderful but to have won two accolades made it even more special (see below).

Among the jury for the World Dramatic Competition was Mira Nair along with Anita Gou and Rui Poças. India’s Shaunak Sen was a jury member for the World Cinema Documentary section along with Mandy Chang, and Monica Hellström.

The Audience Awards are voted on by festivalgoers themselves rather than selected official juries.

Sundance Film Festival took place between January 18-28 and is held mostly in Park City, Utah. There are also screenings in Salt Lake City. attended the festival in person in 2019 and reported on world premieres and conducted interviews on ‘Blinded by the Light’ by Gurinder Chadha; Mindy Kaling’s ‘Late Night’; Richie Mehta’s later International Emmy award-winning, ‘Delhi Crime’ and Ritesh Batra’s ‘Photograph’ – his follow up to the phenomenally successful, ‘The Lunchbox’, which premiered in Cannes in 2012.

Main picture caption: Ali Fazal, filmmaker Shruti Riya Ganguly, Mira Nair, Richa Chadha and Shaunak Sen (Richa Chadha Instagram – see below)


Srinivasan and Dutta’s acceptance speech at Sundance – (note the sound isn’t great) IONCINEMA

Richa Chadha – ‘Girls will be Girls’ winners acceptance speech –


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Written by Asian Culture Vulture