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‘Writing With Fire’ Review: Speaking Truth to Power

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‘Writing With Fire’ Review: Speaking Truth to Power

At times in the documentary “Writing With Fire,” we see female journalists standing alone in a crowd of men – cops, miners, political rallies – asking gentle but firm questions. Women’s patience in the face of apparent hostility is impressive, and it becomes all the more so when you learn that they are in Uttar Pradesh, an Indian province known for crimes against women, and that they are Dalits, Or are the members of the country – called the untouchable caste.

These are the journalists of Khabar Lahariya, India’s only women-led newspaper. In “Writing With Fire,” directors Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh follow the outlet’s pivot to digital coverage in the lead-up to the 2019 general election. Many of the women have never used smartphones or cameras, and for much of the film, journalists coach each other and exchange feedback in heartwarming displays of sorority solidarity.

Scenes from journalists’ home lives emphasize how insignificant these technical challenges seem compared to domestic challenges. Mira, a seasoned, tough journalist, was married at age 14 and earned three degrees while raising her children; Joshila Sunita cannot get married because her parents cannot afford the dowry taken by the men who would have allowed her to work.

But as Thomas and Ghosh focus on arcs of resistance rather than repression, discovering how the news of how the followers of Laharia’s YouTube channel increasingly benefit, the stories yield real results: medical attention to a neglected town. Get; A rapist is prosecuted. If the film’s sharp story sometimes presents these victories as too easily won, it is a necessary corrective to the doubts women still face (“They are destined to fail”. is,” scoffs at Meera’s husband).

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And at a time when the profession in India is facing growing threats, the film’s belief in the powers of grassroots journalism is nothing short of galvanizing.

writing with fire
not evaluated. In Hindi, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 32 minutes. in Theaters.

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