Cannes winner Payal Kapadia on the role of FTII in her filmmaking journey

She also thanked people from the Kerala film industry, whose "many well established actors and producers" lent their support to All We Imagine As Light
Payal Kapadia
Payal Kapadia(Pic: Ranabir Das)

Public institutes will be useless to the nation if they are turned into "elitist" spaces, says filmmaker Payal Kapadia, while also advocating for a tax on big budget movies to create a fund to foster independent filmmaking.

Kapadia, who charted history by becoming the first Indian filmmaker to win the Grand Prix award for All We Imagine as Light, on Friday, May 31, posted a lengthy statement on Facebook where she shared her thoughts on a range of topics and issues.

An alumnus of Pune-based Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), the filmmaker said public institutes should always be accessible to everyone.

"Unfortunately, public institutes are becoming more and more expensive nowadays. These spaces can only remain relevant and can encourage discourse if it remains accessible to all. If it becomes an elitist space like various public universities have become over many years, it will be useless to the nation (sic)," Kapadia wrote.

"There are many private institutions that are made only to maintain the status quo and give opportunities to the elite. A space like FTII is somewhere in between at this point in time. We should strive for it to be even more accessible," she added.

The director also stressed that there is "significant need" to raise the quality of education at primary education level.

Kapadia, whose mother is prominent painter Nalini Malani, said though she comes from a privileged background, there were many challenges faced by women in her family.

They were aided in choosing their professions by having access to prestigious institutions like the JJ School of Art and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

"For me, the greatest learning was being at the Film and television Institute of India (FTIl) where I was a student for five years. FTII was a space where we could not only formulate our thoughts about filmmaking but also about the world we inhabit. Filmmaking does not exist in a vacuum. It is through debates and discussions, questions and self reflection that we move closer to the films we choose to make," she said, adding that the institute encourages independent thinking and diversity.

Payal Kapadia at FTII

In 2015, Kapadia was one of the protesting students who went on strike to oppose actor Gajendra Chauhan's appointment as the chairperson of the FTII.

She said the students at the premier film institute didn't always agree with each other but they learned a lot from their differences.

"Affordable public education has been instrumental in making this possible. And it is not just FTIl. If we look at films being made in our country, you will always find someone in the crew who went to a public institute — Jamia, JNU, HCU, SRFTI, KR Narayanan, just to name a few," she added.

At Cannes, All We Imagine As Light was the first Indian film in 30 years and first ever by an Indian female director to be showcased in main competition, last being Shaji N Karun's Swaham (1994).

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