Caste, class and religion regulate love in India but also hugely determine politics. L, a female student of the Film and Television Institute of India is writing letters to her secret lover who never answers them. Her letters not only convey her frustrations about him but also describe the growing Hindu nationalistic, repressive and volatile political climate students all around India are trying to fight. A Night of Knowing Nothing mixes dreams, fiction, memories, anxieties and fantasies into an hallucinant and nightmarish contemporary essay about the loss of innocence and an India that does not aim to be a fair, open and an inclusive society.
Phoung Le - The Guardian: "Threaded together by fictitious letters between two film students who have ended their intercaste relationship, A Night of Knowing Nothing lends a melancholic intimacy to the 2015 student strike at Kapadia’s alma mater, the Film and Television Institute of India, after Modi’s appointment of a right wing former actor as the university’s new chairman. The dissent is captured in passionate bursts; the juxtaposition of tranquil, domestic dormitory life and cacophonous political shouts accentuate the fervent conviction of the latter. When Muslim and lower-caste students suffer maltreatment, the meaning of a state-funded artistic education is called into question. Culled from a wide range of audiovisual materials including home videos, archival footage, and CCTV recordings, the film adds a textural dimension to the images, most of which are moulded into a grainy, black-and-white analogue look. Tangible tactility is key here: in the opening of the film, students dance together in front of a screen projection of Indian films, and the same swaying bodies pour into the streets, as they stand up to state injustice and police brutality. As their chants reference revolutionary Soviet film-makers – “Eisenstein, Pudovkin ... we shall fight, we shall win” – they breathe new life into the dusty canon of cinema history, translating youthful love for the medium into direct political action and solidarity."
Jessica Kiang - Variety: "There is a certain melancholy to that observation, maybe even a kind of despair, that is enhanced by the strangely nostalgic atmosphere Kapadia evokes. But in her evident cinephilia (in one intriguing moment, she stops to wonder what Pasolini would have made of her confronting a police officer at a march) there is a glimmer of hope. In pictures soft as the fabric of oft-worn clothes, in a voiceover hushed as dusk, the sheer sensual pleasures of filmmaking become their own kind of motivation, reminding us that cinema is not just a useful tool in the fight against injustice and tyranny. When there are films as curious, expressive and intimate as “A Night of Knowing Nothing,” it is also what we’re fighting for. "