Payal Kapadia’s feature debut, A Night of Knowing Nothing (2021), is at once a political chronicle of contemporary India, an ode to the intimate struggles of love, and a love letter to cinema. Winner of the Best Documentary award at Cannes, the film radically blurs the lines between fiction and documentary by using an epistolary narrative structure interspersed with multiple genres of staged and documentary footage, animation, news reportage, and home movies. In its promiscuous crossing of genre-boundaries and its critical citational ethics, A Night of Knowing Nothing does more than simply mobilize archive effects: it collates its own archive of loss and longing, resistance and repair.
A Night of Knowing Nothing: Cinema, Love, and Collective Struggle
Debashree Mukherjee is Associate Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS) at Columbia University. She is author of Bombay Hustle: Making Movies in a Colonial City (2020), and is currently developing a media history of indentured labor and plantation capitalism. Debashree edits the peer-reviewed journal BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies and has published in journals such as Film History, Representations, and Feminist Media Histories.
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Debashree Mukherjee; A Night of Knowing Nothing: Cinema, Love, and Collective Struggle. Film Quarterly 1 September 2022; 76 (1): 11–22. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2022.76.1.11
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