Chidananda S Naik, a doctor-turned-filmmaker, has made history by winning the prestigious La Cinef Award for Best Short at the 77th Cannes Film Festival. His film “Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know…” marks a significant achievement as the first Kannada film to be showcased at Cannes.

Chidananda S Naik wins La Cinef award at Cannes

From Medicine to Filmmaking

Chidananda Naik, originally from Mysuru, studied medicine at Mysore Medical College before transitioning to filmmaking at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune. His shift from a medical career to cinema demonstrates a unique journey, culminating in international recognition at one of the most esteemed film festivals.

The Film

The 16-minute short film is based on a Kannada folktale. It tells the story of an elderly woman who disrupts her village’s natural order by stealing a rooster, resulting in unending darkness. The narrative explores themes of folklore, superstition, and the impact of individual actions on a community.

Despite the compelling storyline, the production faced significant hurdles. Chidananda S Naik and his team had only four days to complete the shoot, a constraint that added to the film’s challenging nature. Furthermore, he encountered opposition and was advised against making the film, adding another layer of difficulty to the production process.

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The film was shot by Suraj Thakur, edited by Manoj V, with sound design by Abhishek Kadam. The collaborative effort of this team under tight deadlines contributed to the film’s success and the vivid portrayal of its unique storyline.

Recognition at Cannes

Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know… competed among 18 short films selected from 2,263 submissions worldwide. The win at La Cinef is not only a personal triumph for Chidananda S Naik but also a landmark moment for Kannada cinema, bringing regional Indian stories to a global platform.

Other Winners

The La Cinef sidebar also recognised other talents. India-born Mansi Maheshwari from the National Film and Television School in England won the third prize for her animation short “Bunnyhood,” a horror-comedy. This year’s competition included a diverse array of films from different countries, showcasing the geographical and cultural mobility of film students.

FTII’s Legacy at Cannes

Chidananda S Naik’s win continues the legacy of FTII at Cannes, following Asmita Guha Neogi’s win in 2020 for “CatDog.” This trend highlights the institute’s role in nurturing talents who achieve international acclaim.

After CatDog, Chidanand S Naik wins La Cinef award at Cannes

Chidananda S Naik’s Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know… is proof of the power of storytelling and perseverance. His success at Cannes not only highlights his personal journey from medicine to filmmaking but also underscores the global recognition of regional Indian cinema. The film’s achievement at the La Cinef competition exemplifies the impact of culturally rich narratives on the world stage.