#SUNDANCE: “WRITING WITH FIRE”
By Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
This inspiring Documentary follows the ambitious women who work at India’s only all-female news network Khabar Lahariya. We watch as this group of Dalit women switch from print to digital, armed with smartphones and invigorated to correct injustices. Their conviction and passion lead them to question their government, the caste system, patriarchy and more.
Directors Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh’s decision to focus-in on Chief Reporter, Meera, a few other reporters, makes this Documentary feel intimate. Their concentration reveals the complexity of what the women are attempting to achieve. It’s through these central journalists that audiences learn about the caste system, gendered violence, police corruption, and the notions of power within their community. Writing With Fire is a tremendous accomplishment for these debuting feature directors.
Thomas and Ghosh impressively show the journalists and Khabar Lahariya’s successes and defeats. We witness how some reporting, involving building roads and supplying electricity, led to positive changes. But we also see when their efforts are halted. For instance, their goal to change the notions of power so injustices stop happening can’t be achieved — yet — because of those who currently hold the power. But these awe-inspiring women never give up.
Regardless of how talented this Director duo are, it’s their subjects that make this Documentary a knock-out. When our heroes listen to victims of gender and caste violence, we feel sorrow. When they continue questioning a Minister even though they have been told to leave, we feel proud. When they are in unsafe situations, we fear for them. And when we get an inside look into their struggles of balancing work and home life, we root for them even more.
These Dalit, considered low caste, female journalists work tirelessly at Khabar Lahariya. They began their YouTube Channel in December of 2012. Today they have over 152 million views and 486k subscribers.
Writing With Fire is a fierce reminder that women have the strength to do anything they set their hearts and minds too. Regardless of the ‘powers’ who tell them they can’t. Because they’re the ones who are redefining what it means to be powerful.
Writing With Fire screens at Sundance:
Live Premiere: January 30 at 9 PM (EST)
On-Demand (Available for 24hrs): February 1 at 10AM (EST)