A Night of Knowing Nothing. 2021. France/India. Directed by Payal Kapadia. In Bengali and Hindi; English subtitles. 96 min.
The passion of youth is fully manifested and felt in this fiction/nonfiction hybrid, which mixes a multitude of textual and formal materials. In voiceover, a young woman reads letters she has written to an ex-lover. Documentary footage taken at a demonstration against the appointment of a ring-wing figure to university leadership expands to include scenes of student activism across India. Fervent student protests against fee increases, Islamophobia, and caste prejudice are juxtaposed with personal heartbreak. This richly textured, layered work of experimentation places at its center the youthful idealism that fuels both political action and romantic love.