A Night of Knowing Nothing

Payal Kapadia

A youthful dance scene is followed by somber protest images, gorgeous wedding photos are followed by dreamy mornings on a university campus: at the Mumbai State film school, love letters of an inter-caste love affair are discovered in a box. As a paratactic montage, they become the testimony of violent injustices in modern-day India. As such, they provide a uniquely emotional framework for the essayistic film, which culminates in the universal despair of cinematic youth activism that is mercilessly put down. In its nostalgic 16 millimeters ambience with dreamy black and white images strongly reminiscent of the '68 student movement, A Night of Knowing Nothing becomes an amorphous document capable of shattering realities across history thanks to its explosive nature.

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Direction Payal Kapadia
Country Indien / Frankreich
Year 2021
Duration 96 min
Language Original with English Subtitles
Production Petit Chaos, Another Birth
Camera Ranabir Das
Script Payal Kapa Dia, Himanshu Prajapati
Editing Ranabir Das
Sound Moinak Bose, Romain Ozanne
Music Bhumisuta Das


Cannes 2021 - Winner Golden Eye

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About the director

Payal Kapadia was born in 1986 in Mumbai. After getting her degree in economics, she studied film directing at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune. Her short films have been featured by numerous film festivals, including Cannes and the Berlinale. A Night of Knowing Nothing is her first feature film. The film premiered as part of the Directors' Fortnight at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the L'Œil d'Or for Best Documentary Film.

Press Reviews

Variety: „A dreamlike Essay on the Poetics of Protest in Modi’s India. A palimpsest of dusky imagery, reflective narration and evocative score creates an achingly melancholic portrait of modern student protest.“



International feature film program