Walking down the main street inside the campus of the Film and Television Institute of India, at 1 am, the trees were illuminated by the glows of the pale tube lights. We were recording the sounds of the night and taking pictures of the old buildings that were covered with graffiti. We stopped to have tea at Dilip Bhau’s tea stall where he prepared Maggie noodles for midnight wanderers like ourselves. Suddenly Riku turned and saw something and called out to me to look. The flickering tube light shone on a few words scratched on a black board. On a normal day the board would announce the names of films that were going to be playing that day in the Main Theatre. Perhaps it could have been a film by Istavan Szabo or a film from the Czech New Wave if it were the beginning of spring. Or perhaps Ozu or Ritwik Ghatak or even Eisenstein if a new batch of students had just arrived. But there was no screening that day. We had been on strike for three months already. The board outside had a poem written by an unknown poet:

‘A Night of knowing nothing,
Another one of being sad
No more my love
Give me freedom’

Payal Kapadia was born in Mumbai in 1986. She earned a degree in economics and studied film directing at the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune. Her short films have screened at numerous film festivals, including Cannes and the Berlinale. Her first feature film A NIGHT OF KNOWING NOTHING was awarded the L’Œil d’or for best documentary at Cannes in 2021.