How Chidananda S Naik's Kannada Folk Tale-Inspired Short Film Won At Cannes 2024

How Chidananda S Naik's Kannada Folk Tale-Inspired Short Film Won At Cannes 2024
L: Cannes R: Chidananda S Naik

Without a shadow of a doubt, this year, Indians are outshining folks at the Cannes Film Festival. Whether it be Payal Kapadia’s debut feature All We Imagine As Light winning the coveted Palme d'Or or Anasuya Sengupta becoming the first Indian to win the Un Certain Regard Best Actress trophy, Indians are stealing the show along the French Riviera. Adding to the buzz, we are proud to announce that the Indian film 'Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know', directed by Chidananda S Naik, has won the first prize of La Cinef for Best Short at Cannes. The winners were announced yesterday and along with the award, the win comes with a generous monetary grant of 15,000 euros. The film was chosen among the 18 titles that were judged by a five-member jury chaired by Belgian actor Lubna Azabal.

Inspired by a Kannada folktale, the 16-minute film follows the story of an aged woman who steals the village's prized possession, a rooster, consequently throwing the rural community into chaos and darkness. This sets off a desperate search for the missing bird, as the villagers believe it holds the key to restoring the sunlight. In order to bring the rooster back, a prophecy is invoked, sending the old lady's family into exile. Director Chidananda S. Naik has held this folktale close to his heart since childhood. However, he discovered that while the story was well-known within Karnataka, it remained unfamiliar to audiences outside the state. Filmed entirely at night, the movie utilizes darkness to create a sense of mystery and intrigue, drawing viewers deeper into the villagers' plight.

How Chidananda S Naik's Kannada Folk Tale-Inspired Short Film Won At Cannes 2024
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Chidanananda S Naik’s story is fascinating. He was a doctor who gave up on his medical profession to pursue his passion as a filmmaker. He is a student of FTII, Pune. However, the success of this film also rests on the shoulders of other talented individuals, as well. Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know" was created by a collaborative effort within the television wing of India's Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) as part of their year-end exercise. The cinematography was done by Suraj Thakur, editing by Manoj V. and Abhishek Kadam composed the film's sound design and music.

We sincerely hope that Indian films continue to shine on the global stage in the years to come.

Watch the trailer below:

Follow Chidanananda S Naik here.