Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh on Making WRITING WITH FIRE – Mythily Ramachandran interviews (Exclusive Guest Post)

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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

 
 

mithilyMythily 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.

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is also a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).