One year after she dazzled at the Cannes Festival, winning its Golden Eye for best documentary for “A Night of Knowing Nothing,” Payal Kapadia’s fiction debut “All We Imagine as Light,” has attracted the most potent production partner support of any project introduced at this year’s Locarno Match Me!
“Night’s” producers. Petit Chaos’ Thomas Hakim, Julien Graff in France and Ranabir Das (also DP and editor on “Night”) at India’s Another Birth will produce “Light.”
Also on board, confirmed early July, is Oliver Pere at Arte France Cinéma. Further co-producers take in Zico Maitra and Aastha Singh (Chalk & Cheese, India), Frank Hoeve (Baldr, Netherlands), Gilles Chanial (Les Films Fauves, Luxembourg and, in the latest addition to partners, Denise Lee and Roberto Minervini (Pulpa Films, Italy).
A potential sign of a project positively courted by producers, the multilateral backing is hardly surprising. “All We Imagine as Light” is highly awaited after “A Night of Knowing Nothing,” a film in which “a palimpsest of dusky imagery, reflective narration and evocative score create an achingly melancholic portrait of modern student protest,” Jessica Kiang wrote in her Variety review about a “dreamlike essay on the poetics of protest in Modi’s India.”
World premiering at the 2021 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, “A Night of Knowing Nothing” was released theatrically this year in France, U.S,, U.K., Portugal and Canada, and has screened all over the world since its premiere last year.
“Light,” like “Night,” meshes reality and the dreamlike. Its focus, however, is new. In it, Nurse Prabha receives an unexpected gift from her estranged husband that throws her life into disarray. Her younger roommate, Anu, tries in vain to find a spot in the city to be intimate with her boyfriend.
One day the two nurses go on a road trip to a beach-town where the mystical forest becomes a space for their dreams to manifest, the synopsis runs.
“Storytelling in India has been used as a tool of transference to calm the listener’s anxious heart. Here, the two women become the characters of the story they would like to hear, and for this brief moment, are free of the world they belong to through a collective dream,” Kapadia said in a brief director’s statement.
“It is the juxtaposition of these states of being that can perhaps create a third understanding which goes beyond the sum of its parts – tucked away somewhere in the folds of memories, dreams and unspoken desires,” she added.
Founded in 2018 by Hakim and Julien Graff, Petit Chaos’ is also at Locarno with“Ikimanuka,” from Rwandan Samuel Ishimwe, a Berlin Silver Bear winner for short “Imfura,” and Pablo Dury’s “Animals.” That’s a highly cosmopolitan slate.
“We are developing several fiction features and we will keep producing short films and documentaries, with directors from France and abroad,” Hakim told Variety. “Being diversified and producing films for cinema and festivals will remain our core business model. I hope to be able to co-produce more films as a minority producer.”
The latter should not prove too much of a challenge. Based out of Tours, a fast-expanding production hub, Petit Chaos can tap not only federal but regional funding. Companies can also apply to the CNC’s Aide aux Cinémas du Monde, which has backed at least six movies screening this year as completed titles at Locarno.
For my first feature film as a producer, A Night of Knowing Nothing by Payal Kapadia, I was quite lucky,” hakim said, referring to its theatrical roll-out around the world.
“But I know the market is tougher than before. So finding the right partner for each film is more important than ever,” he added. Locarno Pro’s Match Me!, a vibrant and still building networking meet, may well further this objective.