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Writing With Fire: What is the Oscar-Nominated Indian Documentary About?

A story of women journalists beating odds

Collective, a story of brave Romanian journalists got an Oscar nomination last year. This year, the love for such daring stories have continued with Writing With Fire, an Indian documentary about women journalists. Read on to know about their tough journey.

Against all odds

Writing With Fire
Black Ticket Films

Writing With Fire tells the story of the staff of Khabar Lahariya, India’s only newspaper company which entirely comprises of women. The literal translation of the term means “waves of news”. It began in the town of Karwi in Chitrakoot district of Uttar Pradesh. Directed by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, the story shows how the company struggled to stay in business. They constantly faced sexism for all possible sides – officials, citizens they interview, and even their own families.

The agency was found by Dalit women. Dalits are considered to be the lowest cast in India, and are still heavily stereotyped by the so-called “upper classes.” Even as the staff of Khabar Lahariya faced this opposition on a regular basis, they did not give up, and instead caused a revolution.

The newspaper was founded in 2002, and their story was finally told as they transitioned from print to digital. The directors explained that most women in the room had not touched a smartphone before. However, they still wanted their newspaper to be viewed digitally.

They also have their official YouTube site, which now has more than 150 million views in total. The ladies have made actual impact with their work, such as compelling police to investigate crimes, and remind government officials to follow through on their promises of improved living conditions for poor communities.

Nominations

Writing With Fire
Black Ticket Films

The documentary was nominated for a Producers Guild Award. It Best documentary feature at the San Francisco International Film Festival and DocsMX in Mexico City. Audiences at the IDFA festival in Amsterdam and Sundance loved what they saw, and also received an additional jury prize at the Seattle Film Festival.

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