In a confusing, male-dominated news landscape, India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women is emerging. Armed with smartphones, chief reporter Meera and her journalists break with tradition, whether on the front lines of India’s biggest problems or in their own homes, and redefine what it means to be powerful.
The ticket is valid for the online screening on Dec 10, 2021.2020
WRITING WITH FIRE is set in the heart of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state (200 million inhabitants), which is also known for its notorious corruption, violence against women, and brutal oppression of its minorities. To make matters worse, many parts of Uttar Pradesh remain media shadow regions. Against this backdrop, we are introduced to the work of Khabar Lahariya (KL), India’s only digital news agency run by Dalit women, who belong to the lowest caste ( called “untouchables”).
32-year-old Meera, KL’s chief reporter, investigates a brutal rape case, and as the story unfolds, the endemic violence and complexities of being a Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh become apparent. Born into an impoverished Dalit family and married off at 14, Meera defied her conservative culture to study and become a journalist at KL. In its fifteenth year, the newspaper decides to increase its reach by switching to digital news. Meera is entrusted with this move and leads her team of 28 semi-educated, professionally trained reporters to transform the newspaper into a regional digital news powerhouse. As her team gets its first taste of digital democracy, their video reports on corruption, violence against women, broken roads, and inadequate public health care grow in popularity and unsettle larger, male-run news outlets. In the film, we see this journey – full of threats, dangers, hopes and sacrifices – through the eyes of our leading lady, Meera, and her struggling protégé, Suneeta.
R. Thomas and S. Ghosh are award-winning directors and producers from India whose work has been supported by Sundance Institute, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Tribeca Institute, Doc Society, SFF Film Fund, IDFA, The Bertha Foundation, Sorfond, and the Finnish Film Foundation, among others. They are Sundance Fellows who enjoy producing films that can have a transformative social impact. In 2009, they founded Black Ticket Films, a production company that focuses on the power of non-fiction storytelling. Black Ticket Films’ award-winning films, which focus on social justice stories, are used by institutions around the world as a means of advocacy, outreach and education. Rintu and Sushmit were awarded the President’s Medal, the highest honor for filmmakers in India, for their cinematic work in 2012. WRITING WITH FIRE is their first documentary film, which they worked on for five years.
Original version (Hindi) with English subtitles, duration: 93 min., documentary, India
Written and directed by Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh, Cinematography: Sushmit Ghosh, Karan Thapliyal, Editing: Sushmit Ghosh, Rintu Thomas. Music: Tajdar Junaid. Production: Sushmit Ghosh, Rintu Thomas, John Webster, Tone Grøttjord-Glenne, Patty, Quillin, Hallee Adelman, Black Ticket Films