WRITING WITH FIREDirected by Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh
Audience Award, Documentary Feature, 2021 Blackstar Film Festival
Audience Award, World Documentary, 2021 Sundance Film Festival
Official Selection, 2021 Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival
“We don’t trust anyone except Khabar Lahariya,” said the husband of a rape survivor to a reporter collecting testimony to follow up with local police on the case. This trust is a result of the thoroughness and sensitivity that Khabar Lahariya reporters are known to bring to their stories, a far cry from the fast, 24/7 content produced in a conventionally male-dominated field.
Khabar Lahariya, meaning “waves of news,” is India’s only news outlet founded and run entirely by women. Started in 2002 in Uttar Pradesh, many of the journalists are Dalit (formerly “untouchable”) women. Wife and husband team Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh deftly follow veteran journalist Meera, reporter-in-training Shyamkali, and rising star Suneetra as they navigate their careers and families, many of whom wish they would marry or stop working so that they can take care of the home full-time.
Despite some having never touched a mobile phone before the outlet transitioned from print to digital media, and some without reliable ways to charge their phones at home, the journalists investigate unsolved rapes and murders, illegal mining, and Hindu nationalism, often receiving threats of violence for their fearless reporting.
For these women, however, the search for answers is part of the persistent pursuit of democracy and justice, and is as powerful a call to protect journalists as exists anywhere in the world.
Co-Presented by Hindu Americans of San Diego.