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FTII Pune wins top prize at Cannes Film School competition

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Cannes: “Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know”, an entry from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, has won the top prize at the Film School Competition of the 77th Cannes Film Festival.

Directed by Mysuru-based Chidananda S. Naik, the Kannada short film is based on a Banjara folk tale about a village plunging into darkness after an elderly woman runs away with a rooster whose crowing caused the sun to rise every morning.

“Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know” won the First Prize of La Cinef section of the Cannes festival and a grant of 15,000 euros (approximately Rs 13.5 lakh).

“Bunnyhood”, an animation short film by Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut-born Mansi Maheshwari, a student of the National Film and Television School (NFTS) in the United Kingdom, won the Third Prize and a grant of 7,500 euros (approximately Rs 7 lakh).

The Second Prize was shared by “Out of the Window Through the Wall” by Asya Segalovich of Columbia University in the United States and “The Chaos She Left Behind” by Nikos Kolioukos of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece. The Second Prize carries a grant of 11,250 euros (approximately Rs 10 lakh).

Naik, who passed out of FTII, Pune, last year, is a doctor-turned-filmmaker. “Bunnyhood” by Maheshwari, a student of NFTS in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, is a nine-minute animation film that explores the relationship between the filmmaker and her mother.

“Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know” and “Bunnyhood”, the two Indian entries from second-tier metro cities were part of 18 short films selected for the La Cinef section of the Cannes Festival from among 2,263 entries submitted by 555 film schools across the world this year.

The 16-minute Kannada language film “Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know” (original Kannada title is Suryakanthihooge Modhalugothagidhu) is based on a folk tale in Karnataka.

“The film tells the story of a grandmother who thinks the sun rises because of her rooster. Determined to teach a lesson to disrespecting villagers, she takes the rooster and vanishes into a forest,” says Naik.

“I want to be a full-time filmmaker and will continue my medical practice to help the poor,” adds Naik, who joined FTII’s one-year course in direction at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

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