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FTII Student Film “Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know” Wins Cannes’ La Cinef Award for Best Short

Cannes, France: “Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know,” a course-end film by Chidanand Naik, a student of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), has won the La Cinef Award for Best Short at the 77th Cannes Film Festival. The announcement was made on May 23, 2024, with student director Chidanand Naik receiving the prestigious award.

The film, which marks a historic moment for Indian cinema, was directed by Chidananda S Naik, shot by Suraj Thakur, edited by Manoj V, and features sound by Abhishek Kadam. The recognition at Cannes highlights the continuous international success of FTII, particularly in recent years.

“Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know” tells the story of an elderly woman who steals the village’s rooster, throwing the community into disarray. A prophecy is invoked to retrieve the rooster, leading to the old lady’s family being sent into exile. This unique narrative showcases the collaborative efforts of four FTII students from different disciplines—Direction, Electronic Cinematography, Editing, and Sound—as part of their final coordinated exercise.

This achievement is particularly significant as it is the first time a film by a student from FTII’s one-year television course has won at Cannes. The film’s director, Chidanand S Naik, was previously recognized as one of the 75 Creative Minds at the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI), an initiative by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to support emerging talent in cinema.

FTII President R. Madhavan congratulated the team, saying, “Congratulations to Chidananda Naik and the entire team of ‘Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know’ for this prestigious honor. May this be the beginning of an illustrious career with many more recognitions. A big cheer and respect to all FTII staff and administration for nurturing such world-class talent.”

The La Cinef section of the Cannes Film Festival is dedicated to showcasing new talent from film schools worldwide. This year, 18 short films (14 live-action and 4 animated) were selected from 2,263 submissions by 555 film schools globally.

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