Indian filmmaker Chidananda S Naik’s short film, “Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know,” clinched the prestigious first prize at the La Cinef competition during Cannes 2024. The film, produced by Naik, an FTII student, stood out among 18 selected entries from 2,263 submissions representing 555 film schools worldwide.

The 16-minute short delves into the chaos unleashed in a village when an elderly woman steals a rooster, prompting a prophecy that leads to her family’s exile. This compelling narrative captivated the jury, chaired by Lubna Azabal, alongside members Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, Paolo Moretti, Claudine Nougaret, and Vladimir Perisic.

Adding to India’s success at Cannes, Mansi Maheshwari’s “Bunnyhood” secured the third prize. Although a UK film, “Bunnyhood” was crafted by Maheshwari, who hails from Meerut, as part of her graduation project at the National Film Television School (NFTS) in London.

The second prize was jointly awarded to Columbia University’s “Our The Window Through The Wall” by Asya Segalovich and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki’s “The Chaos She Left Behind” by Nikos Kolioukos.

The La Cinef awards, announced on May 23 at the Bunuel Theatre, come with substantial grants: 15,000 euros for first place, 11,250 euros for second, and 7,500 euros for third. The winning films will be screened again on June 3 at Cinéma du Panthéon and on June 4 at MK2 Quai de Seine.