(Photo Credit – IMDb)

The most prestigious film festival in the world has officially commenced at the French Riviera with 2024 being a significant year for Indian cinema. Seven Indian films have been chosen to be screened at the 77th Cannes Film Festival, with Payal Kapadia-directorial leading the line.

The Malayalam film “All We Imagine as Light” broke the jinx as it became the first Indian cinema in three decades to compete at the festival’s main segment, Palme d’Or. Shaji N. Karun’s 1994 film “Swaham” was the last film to compete in this category.

Though not the Palme d’Or, several other Indian productions have won big in these 30 years and brought glory to the Indian cinema.

Here are nine such films which shone brightly in the Cannes in last 30 years –

1999 – Murali Nair for “Marana Simhasanam”

At the 52nd Cannes, the seasoned short filmmaker Murali Nair won big for his first feature “Marana Simhasanam” (Throne of Death). Nair, who was previously nominated in the short film category in 1996 for his “A Long Journey”, took home the Caméra d’Or at Cannes in 1999. Inspired by the first execution by electrocution in India, the eponymous chair features the focal point of the satire drama film.

2002 – Manish Jha for “A Very Very Silent Film”

The first prize of the millennium was brought home by Manish Jha for his short film “A Very Very Silent Film”. Jha, who helmed both Production Design and Screenplay, won the Jury Prize in the Short Film category at the 55th Cannes for his film that explored the themes of poverty. The film focuses on the social ills faced by women already suffering from poverty.

2006 – Gitanjali Rao for “Printed Rainbow”

Gitanjali Rao’s animated short film about an old phillumenist woman won the jackpot by wooing audiences at the 61st Cannes. Rao bagged several awards including the Grand Rail d’Or Audience Award, Kodak Discovery Award, and Young Critics Award for Best Short Film. The film explores the themes of creativity and aspirations as the old woman transcends reality by giving shapes to her dreams of fantastical lands through matchbox covers.

2013 – Ritesh Batra for “The Lunchbox”

In 2013, another Indian film that took home the Critics’ Week Viewers Choice Award was Ritesh Batra’s “The Lunchbox”. The fan-favorite movie starring Irrfan Khan along with Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Bharti Achrekar, and Nakul Vaid not only became a commercial success but also the recipient of the Grand Rail d’Or Audience Award (Viewers Choice Award). The slice-of-life film explores the unlikely friendship that developed when the eponymous lunchbox prepared by a woman for her husband gets mistakenly delivered to another man.

2015 – Neeraj Ghaywan for “Masaan”

‘Masaan”, the film that hard launched Vicky Kaushal in the panorama of Indian cinema, etched its name at the 68th Cannes in 2015. Ghaywan took home the FIPRESCI Prize (Un Certain Regard) and Prix de l’Avenir (Un Certain Regard) for the film that explored the themes of love, and societal stigma against the backdrop of the eternal city of Varanasi.

2016 – Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya for “The Cinema Travellers”

In 2016, Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya bagged the L’Œil d’Or Special Mention for their “The Cinema Travellers” which was introduced as a category just a year prior. Abraham and Madheshiya bagged the honors for their moving tribute to the crumbling art of cinema lorries that enchanted audiences for decades.

2020 – Ashmita Guha Neogi for “CatDog”

Ashmita Guha Neogi’s “CatDog” was the only Indian entry at the 73rd Cannes, and the short film created magic. The young filmmaker was awarded the Cinéfondation Premier Prix for her 21-minute-long short drama. Cinéfondation is a foundation that works under the umbrella of the Cannes Film Festival to support up-and-coming international filmmakers. Made in the Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini’s birth centenary year, the film pays a subtle homage to the director.

2021 – Payal Kapadia for “A Night of Knowing Nothing”

If you think 2024’s Cannes is Payal Kapadia’s first sojourn to the French Riviera, you might be wrong. In 2021, Kapadia took home the Golden Eye for her debut documentary film “A Night of Knowing Nothing”. Kapadia featured her alma mater Film and Television Institute of India in her documentary and explored the themes of love and longing while highlighting university life in India. She was also nominated for the Caméra d’Or.

2022 – Shaunak Sen for “All That Breathes”

A year later, Shaunak Sen’s apocalyptic documentary/drama “All That Breathes” took home the L’Œil d’Or Special Mention or Golden Eye. Sen’s Oscar-nominated production explored the degenerated condition of nature as two brothers race to save the lives of fallen big birds of prey.

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