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.

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.

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.

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.