A Night of Knowing Nothing

a film by

France, India / 96' / 07/2021 / documentary

L, a university student in India, writes letters to her estranged lover, while he is away. Through these letters, we get a glimpse into the drastic changes taking place around her. Merging reality with fiction, dreams, memories, fantasies and anxieties, an amorphous narrative unfolds.

“One of the year's most electrifying debuts, Payal Kapadia’s hybrid feature A Night of Knowing Nothing is a fever dream of impossible love tied to a broader reflection on contemporary India.”
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“One of the year's most electrifying debuts, Payal Kapadia’s hybrid feature A Night of Knowing Nothing is a fever dream of impossible love tied to a broader reflection on contemporary India.”
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Payal Kapadia


Payal Kapadia is a Mumbai based filmmaker and artist. She studied Film Direction at the Film & Television Institute of India. Her short films AFTERNOON CLOUDS (2017) and AND WHAT IS THE SUMMER SAYING (2018) premiered respectively at the Cinéfondation and the Berlinale. She is a Berlinale Talents alumna and participated in 2019 at the Cinéfondation – Résidence du Festival de Cannes. Her first feature, A NIGHT OF KNOWING NOTHING, is part of the 2021 Director’s Fortnight selection. Her next project, ALL WE IMAGINE AS LIGHT, for which she received support from Ciclic and Hubert Bals Fund, is currently in financing.


  • A Night of Knowing Nothing – 2021 – feature documentary
  • And What is the Summer Saying – 2018 – short film
  • Afternoon Clouds – 2017 – short film
  • Last Mango Before the Monsoon – 2015 – short film
  • Watermelon, Fish and Half Ghost – 2013 – short film
  • Cassandra’s Gift – 2012 – short film
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Director: Payal Kapadia
Screenplay: Payal Kapadia and Himanshu Prajapati
Producer: Thomas Hakim and Julien Graff
Co-producer: Ranabir Das
Production companies: Petit Chaos & Another Birth
Cinematographer: Ranabir Das
Sound Design: Moinak Bose, Romain Ozanne
Editor: Ranabir Das
Voice over: Bhumisuta Das


  • Quinzaine des Réalisateurs, France (7 – 17 July, 2021)
    Official Selection Won: L’Oeil d’Or for Best Documentary
  • FIDMarseille International Film Festival, France (19 – 25 July, 2021)
    Closing Film
  • Toronto International Film Festival, Canada (9 – 18 September, 2021)
    Wavelengths Won: Amplify Voices Award
  • Camden International Film Festival, United States (16 – 26 September, 2021)
    Cinematic Vision Won: Cinematic Vision Award
  • Athens International Film Festival, Greece (22 September – 3 October, 2021)
    Stranger Than Fiction Competition
  • New York Film Festival, United States (24 September – 10 October, 2021)
    Currents Section
  • Busan International Film Festival, South-Korea (6 – 15 October, 2021)
    Wide Angle: Documentary Showcase
  • Tacoma Film Festival, United States (7 – 14 October, 2021)
  • Valdivia International Film Festival, Chile (11 – 17 October, 2021)
    Opening Film
  • Bordeaux International Independent Film Festival, France (12 – 19 October, 2021)
    Main Competition
  • Ulaanbaatar International Film Festival, Mongolia (18 – 24 October, 2021)
    Official Selection
  • Viennale, Austria (21 – 31 October. 2021)
    Official Selection
  • DOK Leipzig – International Festival for Documentary and Animated Film, Germany (25  October – 31 October, 2021)
    Camera Lucida
  • Ji.Hlava International Documentary Film Festival, Czech Republic (26 – 31 October, 2021)
  • San Diego Asian Film Festival, United States (28 October – 6 November, 2021)
  • New Zealand International Film Festival, New Zealand (28 October – 5 December, 2021)
    South Asian Focus
  • Denver Film Festival, United States (3 – 14 November, 2021)
    Official Selection
  • Cork International Film Festival, Ireland (4 – 14 November, 2021)
    Cinematic Documentary Competition Special Mention
  • Seville European Film Festival, Spain (5 – 13 November, 2021)
    Endless Revolutions Competition
  • India Week Hamburg, Germany (8 – 14 November, 2021)
  • Mar del Plata International Film Festival, Argentina (8 – 18 November, 2021)
    Altered States Competition Won: Astor Piazzolla for Best Feature Film & MUBI Award to the Best Film
  • AFI Fest, United States (10 – 14 November, 2021)
    Official Selection
  • DOC NYC, United States (10 – 28 November, 2021)
    Winner’s Circle
  • Duhok International Film Festival, Iran (11 – 18 November, 2021)
    International Documentary Competition
  • Cámara Lúcida – International Film Festival, Ecuador (11- 19 November, 2021)
    Official Selection
  • LEFFEST – Lisbon & Sintra Film Festival, Portugal (11 – 20 November, 2021)
    Official Selection Won: Best Film Award
  • Internationales Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg, Germany (11 – 21 November, 2021)
  • ZINEBI – International Festival of Documentary and Short Film of Bilbao, Spain (12 – 19 November, 2020)
    Beautiful Docs
  • Rencontres Internationales Du Documentaire De Montréal, Canada (13 – 17 November, 2021)
    International Competition Won: Special Jury Prize, International Feature
  • Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival, Romania (16 – 21 November, 2021)
    Special screening
  • International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, the Netherlands (17 – 28 November, 2021)
    Best of Fests Nomination Beeld en Geluid IDFA ReFrame Award for Best Creative Use of Archive
  • Festival Les Écrans Documentaire, France (17 – 23 November, 2021)
    Opening Film
  • Festival Des 3 Continents Nantes, France (19 – 28 November, 2021)
    Official Selection
  • Festival Dei Popoli, Italy (20 – 28 November, 2021)
    Official Selection
  • Entrevues Belfort International Film Festival, France (21 – 28 November, 2021)
    Focus on Films from India
  • Frames of Representation, United Kingdom (25 November – 4 December, 2021)
    Opening Film
  • Singapore International Film Festival, Singapore (25 November – 5 December, 2021)
  • Muestra de Cine de Lanzarote, Spain (30 November – 3 December, 2021)
    Official Selection
  • This human world – International Human Rights Film Festival, Austria (2 – 12 December, 2021)
    Out of competition
  • Bangkok ASEAN Film Festival, Thailand (8 – 13 December, 2021)
  • Out of Competition
  • ASEAN Short Film Competition Bangkok ASEAN Film Festival, Thailand (8 – 13 December, 2021)
    Out of Competition


Press materials

EPK: Click here

Stills, poster & director’s photo: Click here

Dialogue list English: Click here

Trailer: Click here

Excerpts: Click here

Press quotes

“Only a few seconds into Payal Kapadia’s shimmery, poetic essay doc “A Night of Knowing Nothing,” it feels like we are a few hours deep into the excavation of someone else’s memories… The sheer sensual pleasures of filmmaking become their own kind of motivation, reminding us that cinema is not just a useful tool in the fight against injustice and tyranny. When there are films as curious, expressive and intimate as “A Night of Knowing Nothing,” it is also what we’re fighting for.”
Review: Jessica Kiang – Variety

“What Kapadia has achieved with this film is to formulate a cinematic language capable of communicating truths beyond what can be expressed, or felt, through conventional storytelling… Kapadia’s speculative, poetic rumination on memory, political reality and personal association transforms the viewing experience into something transcendent.”
Review: Marina Ashioti – Little White Lies

“A vivid portrait of revolt and oppression, love and pain, and philosophical thought threatened by nationalist agenda.”
Review: Siddhant Adlakha – IndieWire

“A haunting low-fi meditation on memory, social class and political protest.”
Review: Jordan Mintzer – The Film Verdict

“An oneiric, sensory and imaginative journey documenting being young in contemporary India.”
Review: Mateusz Tarwacki – Eye For Film

“Payal Kapadia’s extraordinary debut feature A Night of Knowing Nothing is a hypnotic essay about the loss of innocence and the spark that inspires one to fight.”
Review: Pat Mullen – Point of View Magazine

Beautifully dispatched through its entanglement of formal hybridity, Payal Kapadia’s A Night of Knowing Nothing burrows her contemplative sensibility into the archiving of a contemporary reality.”
Review: Zachary Goldkind – In Review Online

“An essential film that marries formal inventiveness with the events surrounding the political and social upheaval under Modi’s increasingly nationalistic and authoritarian India through the eyes and experiences of young Indians in public universities.”
Review: Aditya Shrikrishna – News Nine

“Kapadia is bold in striking a balance between intimate fabulation and the documentation of these expansive events, always retaining a hold on the former even as her film tilts increasingly towards the latter.”
Review: Erika Balsom – Cinema Scope