Debutant directors Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh received two awards-Audience award and Special Jury award at Sundance Film Festival 2021 for their documentary Writing With Fire, , chronicling the rise of ‘Khabar Lahariya’ (Waves of news), India’s only newspaper run by Dalit (considered untouchables) women and which recently went digital. WWF is produced by Black Ticket Films, a production company cofounded by Thomas and Ghosh and recognized for its award winning shorts including Timbaktu that received the Indian national award in 2012 as Best Environmental film. Mythily Ramachandran talks to the duo on the making of this documentary.
Mythily Ramachandran: What was the unanimous opinion about Writing With Fire at the Sundance festival?
Rintu Thomas: We didn’t know what to expect from the virtual avatar of the festival. After the world premiere of our film- from a school teacher in Montana to a police officer in Colorado- viewers were tweeting, instagram-ing and emailing us about how inspired they felt after watching WWF. The second screening was sold out right after the first! Winning the Audience Award has a deep meaning for us as it reflects that our film resonated deeply with its audience.
MR: What triggered this story on Khabar Lahariya?
RT: We met our characters first in 2016. I was drawn to the coming together of two unique forces. On one hand are rural Dalit women chipping away at one of the most cruel systemic discriminations in the world created to silence them. On the other hand is digital technology that by its very nature is unfettered. I was interested in exploring what happens when women reclaim the spaces that are designed to exclude them. What does the world that they re-imagine look like? The film’s three main characters are women with different personalities and personal histories. United in their vision for a just world through journalism, they approach it with their unique lens, voice – and chutzpah! Continue reading on THE FEMALE GAZE
Mythily Ramachandran,Mythily Ramachandran is an independent journalist from Chennai, India with over two decades of reporting experience in leading Indian and international publications, including Gulf News, (UAE), South Morning China Post, Lifestyle Asia and Another Gaze (UK). When this crazy film buff is not watching films, she is snooping around for those little-known stories of human interest, which eventually find a place in well known publications.