Payal Kapadia’s ‘All We Imagine As Light’ Wins Big at 2024 Cannes Film Festival: A Historical Win for Indian Cinema
Indian filmmaker Payal Kapadia proudly accepts the Grand Prix award at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival for her groundbreaking film 'All We Imagine As Light,' marking a historic achievement for Indian cinema.

Payal Kapadia’s ‘All We Imagine As Light’ Makes History at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival

Indian filmmaker Payal Kapadia has scripted history with her film ‘All We Imagine As Light’ after bagging the prestigious Grand Prix at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival. This remarkable feat is earning an Indian film an entry into the main competition after over 30 years at the Cannes Film Festival and its first ever representation by an Indian female director. Though ‘All We Imagine As Light’ was the strongest contender for the Palme d’Or of the festival, the title went to the comedy-drama movie called ‘Anora,’ by Sean Baker.

Prime Minister Modi’s Congratulatory Message

Congratulating Payal Kapadia for her brilliant work, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “India is proud of Payal Kapadia for her historic feat of winning the Grand Prix at the 77th Cannes Film Festival for her work ‘All We Imagine As Light’. An alumna of FTII, her remarkable talent continues to shine on the global stage, giving a glimpse of the rich creativity in India.” This commendation underlines the significant impact of Kapadia’s work on the international platform and duly tries to capture the feeling of pride the country holds in her and her success.

Critical Acclaim and Industry Praise

‘All We Imagine As Light’ has received critical acclaim from international media as well as from the domestic Indian media. The film being in the competition section at Cannes has been an astonishing achievement, making this the first Indian film to be there in three decades. Kapadia is an alumna of the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII) and has only recently been awarded. Her previous and much-acclaimed documentary film ‘A Night of Knowing Nothing,’ which screened at the Director’s Fortnight side-bar at the 2021 Cannes Festival, had also won an award—the Oeil d’or, or the Golden Eye.

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The Indian film industry has congratulated Kapadia on this achievement. Congratulating the moment was Mohanlal, who said, “A momentous occasion for Indian Cinema as Payal Kapadia, Kani Kusruthi, Divya Prabha, Chhaya Kadam and the talented team behind ‘All We Imagine As Light’ bask in glory!” He also showed huge love and respect towards Anasuya Sengupta and illustrious Santosh Sivan for their remarkable contributions. Likewise, Mammootty welcomed the moment: “Making Indian Cinema Proud. What an amazing achievement. Congrats to Payal Kapadia, Kani Kusruthi, Divya Prabha, Chhaya Kadam and the entire team of ‘All We Imagine As Light’.” Such congratulatory remarks by the stalwarts express the achievement of Kapadia and how she has added value to the realm of Indian cinema.

Tribute by Varun Grover to Indian Talent

Noting the significance of the fact, Indian film director, screenwriter, lyricist, and music composer Varun Grover shared his admiration for the achievement by Kapadia. “Unbelievable day for Indian cinema. An independent filmmaker⁠—from much hated FTII—whose first film was a poetic love letter to the idea of dissent in a democracy, wins the second highest honour at the biggest film festival in the world,” he tweeted. Grover’s tribute reflects how important Kapadia’s work is and how a struggle it was to reach there.

Cannes 2024: A Celebration of Indian Talent

The 2024 Cannes Film Festival, from May 14-25, felicitated to see numerous Indian artists emerge as its major winners for their works by winning prizes and accumulating critical acclaim. Directorial debutante Payal Kapadia’s ‘All We Imagine As Light’ is a sheer highlight piece that has managed to win the Grand Prix prize. Moreover, the actor Anasuya Sengupta made history by becoming the first Indian to take home Best Actress at Cannes (Un Certain Regard) for her role in the film ‘The Shameless,’ by Bulgarian director Konstantin Bojanov.

Cannes—The Glamour and History

The Cannes Film Festival, known for its overt glamour, glitz, and attraction for celebrities, attracts worldwide attention each year, primarily because of its red carpet. Moreover, it has become an important platform, the world over, for the display of the fashion sense of Bollywood actors, mostly seen in their temerously super-normal clothes.

The Cannes Film Festival was formed in 1936—just before the world jumped into World War II. In 1938, as the world became taut due to aggressive geopolitics, pre-war apprehensions made countries like the USA, the UK, and France refuse to participate in the Venice Film Festival, as it was under the influence of fascist regimes in Italy and Germany. The precursor of this refusal was the Cannes Film Festival, a politically neutral bastion of privacy to celebrate art and nothing else—no politics, in short.

The Journey of Cannes

The first Cannes Film Festival was held in 1946, post the gloomy shadow of World War II, and it saw the presence of many a star like Kirk Douglas, Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly and Pablo Picasso. Post that, the film festival has moved from strength to strength, becoming one of the most elite festivals, famous for most awaited films from almost all corners of the world. The Palais is a world-class building set by the sea that houses this festival’s premises and hosts its world Premieres and red carpet events for the entire international media to capture and report.

A World Platform

Over the years, the Cannes Festival has included movies from different countries, thereby providing a stage for world cinema. Countries like the Philippines, China, Cuba, Australia, New Zealand, and Argentina were thus invited in the 1980s, and the festival became truly international in nature. Some of the prominent films that have won the prestigious Palme d’Or are ‘Taxi Driver,’ ‘Apocalypse Now,’ ‘Pulp Fiction,’ and ‘Parasite.’ The only Indian film that has so far won the Palme d’Or was Chetan Anand’s ‘Neecha Nagar’ in 1946.

Saudi Arabia’s Cultural Push

The country has supported several films in the last couple of years in its push for diversifying its cultural exports. In 2023, for instance, French director Maiwenn’s film ‘Jeanne du Barry,’ featuring Johnny Depp, premiered at Cannes. The movie was supported by Saudi funding. Other films supported by Saudi funding, such as ‘Four Daughters’ by Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania and ‘Banel & Adama’ by Senegalese filmmaker Ramata-Toulaye Sy, underline the festival’s efforts to promote films of Arab filmmakers.


All the glory of Payal Kapadia winning the 2024 Cannes Film Festival will be about the history she has created and the new tale of Indian cinema on the international stage. While her film ‘All We Imagine As Light’ won the Grand Prix and placed against Bombay Rose last year itself, this only adds to the glory of this achievement apart from bringing in a lot of critical appreciation and kudos. As Cannes remains one of the epicenters which promotes the global voice of cinema, this win of Kapadia will become an inspiration for generations of filmmakers.

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