Mysuru filmmaker Chidananda S. Naik wins La Cinef top prize at Cannes

Chidananda S. Naik (second from left) after winning the top prize of La Cinef at Cannes.

Chidananda S. Naik (second from left) after winning the top prize of La Cinef at Cannes.
| Photo Credit: @Chidanandasnaik/X

Mysuru filmmaker Chidananda S. Naik, a Film and Television Institute of India student (FTII), won the first prize of La Cinef at the Cannes film festival. Mr. Naik’s short film, Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know, bagged the top prize at the Bunuel Theatre in Cannes.

Mr. Naik’s 15-minute short film, inspired by a Kannada folktale, was picked from 2,263 entries for the competition from 555 film schools across the globe.

“Selection at Cannes is a chance for exposure and interaction with other international filmmakers. I hope to see more Kannada films reaching Cannes in the future,” Mr. Naik had told The Hindu in an interview ahead of the festival.

Mr. Naik received a stipend of 15,000 euros from the festival for his victory. “We got just four days to shoot. Shooting entirely at night with limited resources was tough,” said Mr. Naik, a doctor-turned-filmmaker.

Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know revolves around an elderly woman who disrupts a village’s harmony by stealing their prized rooster, plunging the community into perpetual darkness. Suraj Thakur is the cinematographer, while Abhishek Kadam is the sound engineer. Manoj V. has done the editing.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah congratulated Mr. Naik for his victory. “As a proud Kannadiga, it’s inspiring to see you bring Kannada folklore to the global stage. I am sure it will inspire many more to pursue their passion and achieve great heights,” he wrote on X.

Kannada actor Yash, actor R. Madhavan, the FTII, and Union Minister Anurag Thakur also congratulated the winner on social media.

Mr. Naik is the second Indian to win the La Cinef award. In 2020, Ashmita Guha Neogi clinched the honour for her short film CatDog. 

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