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'All We Imagine as Light' wins the Grand Prix at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival

By: The Cooke Team  |   1 min read

‘All We Imagine As Light’ took home the coveted Grand Prix at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival this year. With cinematography by Ranabir Das and direction from Payal Kapadia the feature takes place in Mumbai where Nurse Prabha’s routine is troubled when she receives an unexpected gift from her estranged husband. In tandem, her younger roommate Anu is attempting to find a spot in the city to be intimate with her boyfriend.

The film was shot on location in Mumbai and Ratnagiri and employed the Arri Alexa Mini paired with Cooke’s world renowned S4/i Prime Lenses. Cooke Optics spoke with the cinematographer about his work on the project.

Das met director Kapadia in film school and they’ve worked together for many years since including on the feature film ‘A Night of Knowing Nothing’ (2021). As such he was involved from the onset of the project. Initial prep mainly took the form of image sharing which built to the director, cinematographer and art department all being on the same page.

“For many months, we exchanged ideas for what the image should look like. We gathered photographs, paintings, films, videos on the internet etc to formulate lighting, camera movement, texture, framing, geometric formations and the colour palette.”

All We Imagine As Light
All We Imagine As Light

Whilst there had been an initial desire to shoot on film this ultimately proved to be beyond the budget of the project and with lots of the story taking place in relatively uncontrolled low light conditions, digital became the more appropriate choice. Instead Das accentuated film characteristics such as grain whilst shooting and in post-production.

On the filming environment the cinematographer recollects:

“The shooting conditions were varying. We had some locations which were more controlled, like many of the interiors in the film. A lot of exterior locations were far less controlled but that is one of the reasons we selected them. It brings a sense of reality and immediacy to the image that we could never have achieved if we tried to make controlled images. Shooting in a city like Mumbai, it is always chaotic. We had to improvise methods in order to retain its chaos and yet manage to shoot. In Ratnagiri, which is a town by the sea a few hours south of Mumbai, the process was very different and involved shooting in remote locations which were difficult to access.”

Das is no stranger to Cooke lenses having previously used them on some documentary work as well as the short film ‘The Daughter’ (2022, dir. Soumyak Kanti DeBiswas). When it came to testing lenses, the cinematographer prefers to keep the process as close to shooting the film as possible and avoid making it heavily technically – over time this lead the team to the Cooke S4/i lenses. Das sings the praises of these lens with great enthusiasm.

“The image they produced were simply beautiful. The S4/i’s are very pleasantly sharp. There are many lenses that were made for film and look a bit harsh when coupled with a modern camera but that is not the case with Cooke. The image remains pleasant to the eye. They are light weight and easy to use for a handheld production. The focus roll off is very smooth and ‘filmic’ and a sense of depth is created by the lens giving the image more life. There is no unnatural distortion. The contrast it produces was just right for the project.  The colour it produces is a neutral warm. Even though we were going for a cooler image through a lot of the film, this characteristic really helped to maintain a healthy skin tone and it captured enough depth in the colours to control them in post-production.”

Ranabir Das | Director of Photography

The look of the film is gritty and Das found the lenses supported this style. “It was a conscious choice to push the image to the extremes. We wanted a dirty image that felt raw and realistic but at the same time have a kind, soft, sensitive feeling. As I was using the combination of the Alexa and the Cooke lenses, I did not have to worry about pushing the image a little over the edge. I knew the picture would still hold.”


All We Imagine As Light
All We Imagine As Light

In Post-Production colourists Lionel Kopp and Laurens Orij worked on the film, adding a lot of nuance to the image and helping to bring out the final texture and feeling. VFX shots were limited but “delicately and expertly handled” by Hoël Sainléger. The camera package was facilitated by Prime Focus in Mumbai.

Cooke sends their congratulations to the team for their Cannes win. Currently on the festival circuit the feature is set for release from October onwards.