A Night of Knowing Nothing

Payal Kapadia


A box of letters is found on the campus of the Film and Television Institute of India. Signed by a student with the name »L«, the letters trace the incursion of the Hindu Nationalist BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been in office since May 2014, into the left-liberal environment of the film school. An invented archive becomes an outlet for a personal and social crisis.

The 16 mm black-and-white images, juxtaposed with the fictional letters read aloud, appear in dream-like – bad dreams, that is – form. Exuberant dance scenes are slowly followed by images of strikes and protests that swept the country in response to the new citizenship law and the rise in tuition fees. While »L« laments the end of an inter-caste love in her letters, the demonstrators shout the right to free choices in private as well as political life. The freedom to say »yes« clashes with increasing discrimination against women, Muslims, Dalits and critical journalists under Modi’s rule. As the violence continues to escalate, the students search for answers to the question of what role a state-aided film school should play in such times.

Dancing, loving, demonstrating and discussing as means of protest run throughout Payal Kapadia’s debut and lighten the sadness-drenched images. How close helplessness and hope are in times of upheaval and how crucial the language of cinema can be in all of this is impressively told by Kapadia.

This film has been nominated for the Audience Award endowed with 1,000 euro. Please vote after watching the movie.
You can find an overview of all nominated films here.



Payal Kapadia


Payal Kapadia, Himanshu Prajapati

Cinematography / Editing

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Ranabir Das – Another Birth, Thomas Hakim, Julien Graff – Petit Chaos


Square Eyes

Regisseurin Payal Kapadia

Payal Kapadia

Payal Kapadia was born in Mumbai in 1986. She graduated in economics and went on to study film directing at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune. Her short films have screened at numerous film festivals, including Cannes and the Berlinale. At the International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA), her And What Is the Summer Saying won the Special Jury Prize for Best Short Documentary in 2018. Her experimental short film The Last Mango before the Monsoon earned a Special Mention from the International Jury and the FIPRESCI Award at the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen. A Night of Knowing Nothing is Kapadia’s first feature-length film. It was awarded the Œil d’or for best documentary at Cannes in 2021.

Films by Payal Kapadia
And What Is the Summer Saying
2018 | Afternoon Clouds 2018 | The Last Mango Before the Monsoon 2014