At Cannes, Indian Filmmakers Show There Is More Than Just Bollywood

For the first time in 30 years at the Cannes Film Festival, an Indian film will compete for the Palme d’Or in the main competition, alongside new movies from Francis Ford Coppola, Yorgos Lanthimos and Andrea Arnold.

The dry spell might come as a surprise for a country with film industries in multiple regions producing hundreds of films per year, including international sensations like last year’s Oscar-nominated “RRR.”

But the inclusion of “All We Imagine as Light,” directed by Payal Kapadia, reflects a growing recognition of the independent cinema made in the shadow of the country’s mainstream hits.

Thierry Frémaux, the artistic director of Cannes, noted the new generations of filmmakers in India when he announced the lineup in April. These movies offer what the critic Namrata Joshi calls “a young, probing, and provoking gaze at Indian reality.” Indian publications have celebrated the country’s prominent presence at the festival, whose inaugural edition in 1946 included a film from India, Chetan Anand’s “Neecha Nagar,” in its grand prize category.

“All We Imagine as Light” joins a generally notable selection of Indian stories and storytellers across this year’s edition, which begins on Tuesday. Santosh Sivan will be the first Indian filmmaker to receive the Pierre Angénieux prize for career achievement in cinematography, and in the Un Certain Regard competition, Sandhya Suri’s “Santosh” follows a widow who takes on her husband’s policeman post.

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