The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences recently announced the shortlists in 10 categories. While India’s official entry, Koozhangal (Pebbles), is out of the race, another Indian film Writing with Fire was shortlisted in the Best Documentary Feature category. Now, it’s officially been nominated.
Would have been great to be on this list !— Vignesh Shivan (@VigneshShivN) December 22, 2021
Nevertheless I thank @PsVinothraj for giving such a pure cinema!
I thank the Indian jury members for selecting our film as the official entry for the oscars this year🙏🏻
Thanking all our well-wishers & friends for rooting for us😇 pic.twitter.com/Flz5krtZsa
Writing With Fire is the debut directorial venture of Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh. The documentary is about the rise of Khabar Lahariya, India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women.
#WritingWithFire is on the @TheAcademy Shortlist. What a moment for my entire team behind this indie Indian doc. What a moment for the Indian documentary community. We are richer with the stories we choose to tell, big love @KhabarLahariya 💜💜 https://t.co/CLHSqF3Gxn pic.twitter.com/CRPIej1k4R— Rintu Thomas (@RintuThomas11) December 22, 2021
Indian documentary feature #WritingWithFire is shortlisted for the #Oscars2022 in the Documentary Feature category, and is now the only Indian film in the run at the Academy Awards.#Oscars2022 https://t.co/6NARThNBMK— Silverscreen India (@silverscreenin) December 22, 2021
The film shows an ambitious group of women reporters switching from print to digital media in the run up to the general elections 2019, under the guidance of their chief reporter Meera. Many of these women had never used a smartphone before but they do not give up and learn from each other.
The newspaper Khabar Lahariya was found by a group of Dalit women in 2002. At that time, nobody believed that the publication would thrive. But it did, against all odds.
20 years later, they have a YouTube channel, a Facebook page and a digital platform.
Meera, the chief reporter is at the centre of the documentary. She was just 14 when her parents got her married. She continued her studies after marriage and obtained a masters degree. Today, she’s a working mother who handles Khabar Lahariya quite well while her husband still thinks that the news outlet would fail some day.
Meet Meera, chief reporter of the only newspaper in India run by Dalit women who, armed with smartphones, break traditions to be on the frontline of India’s biggest issues, redefining fearlessness.— Birds Eye View (@BirdsEyeViewFF) December 18, 2021
RT for an exclusive chance to see this incredible film #WritingWithFire! pic.twitter.com/kxxQIQh4mD
Other two women reporters who also feature in the documetary are Suneeta and Shyamkali. Suneeta is the fearless one taking on illegal mining, interviewing men all this while dealing with unwanted stares and advances.
Shyamkali, on the other hand, is shy and doesn’t even know how to use a cellphone. But this does not deter her from learning.
For a county where journalism is considered to be a male-dominated profession, these women face several challenges day in and day out. From covering breaking stories to reporting from sensitive regions, they are always on the ground doing the real journalism.
And they cover all stories on cellphones.
While the film does not go much into the origins of the newspaper, it starts from 2018-19 when the newspaper was forced to go digial in order to stay relevant. It delves deeper into the challenges the group faced and how they overcame.
At a time when media is losing all credibility, they want to remain a ‘real’ news outlet.
These women have already made us proud with their work and we are now looking forward to Writing With Fire winning the Oscars.
You can watch the trailer for the film here.
All images are screenshots from the trailer unless specified.