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A Night of Knowing Nothing

A Night of Knowing Nothing
Payal Kapadia
Camera Lucida – Out of Competition 2021
Documentary Film
France,
India
2021
96 minutes
Hindi,
Bengali
subtitles: 
English

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Payal Kapadia
Thomas Hakim
Julien Graff
Ranabir Das
Wouter Jansen
Ranabir Das
Ranabir Das
Moinak Bose
Romain Ozanne
Payal Kapadia
Himanshu Prajapati

Riots and protests at an Indian film school, told in letters written by student L to her lover K, in which she reflects on what’s happening around her. While government forces gradually push back the rebellion, L realizes that she will never receive an answer because K belongs to a higher caste. The anonymous lines are wistful echoes of a love tragedy in times of the resurgence of a nationalistic class society.

Director Payal Kapadia steeps the visual material, compiled from a variety of sources and testifying to long, draining nights of protest, but also to great determination and a youthful exuberance, almost consistently in grainy black and white. Even mobile phone or surveillance camera footage are thus aesthetically related to 16mm student films from past decades. But against this contrast the immediate, unfinished nature of what is shown becomes all the more apparent, referencing the complex dialogue between a fragile memory and a tumultuous present that goes on in the film. A present in which questions of artistic representation, but also of personal responsibility, must be renegotiated.
Felix Mende
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Redistribution and Having a Say
Poetry and Crossing Boundaries