A number of instances within the documentary “Writing With Fire,” we see girls reporters standing alone in a crowd of males — cops, miners, political rallyists — asking light however agency questions. The ladies’s grit within the face of palpable hostility is spectacular, and it turns into extra so whenever you study that they’re in Uttar Pradesh, an Indian province recognized for crimes in opposition to girls, and that they’re Dalits, or members of the nation’s so-called untouchable caste.
These are the reporters of Khabar Lahariya, India’s solely women-led newspaper. In “Writing With Fire,” the administrators Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh observe the outlet’s pivot to digital protection within the lead-up to the general election in 2019. Most of the girls have by no means used smartphones or cameras, and for a lot of the movie, the reporters prepare one another and change suggestions in heartening shows of sororal solidarity.
Scenes from the reporters’ residence lives emphasize how trivial these technical challenges appear in comparison with home ones. Meera, a veteran, tough-as-a-nut journalist, was married at 14 and earned three levels whereas elevating her kids; the feisty Suneeta can not get married as a result of her dad and mom can’t afford the dowries charged by males who would enable her to work.
However Thomas and Ghosh deal with arcs of resistance quite than repression, tracing how, as Khabar Lahariya’s YouTube channel quickly features followers, its tales obtain actual outcomes: a uncared for city receives medical consideration; a rapist is prosecuted. If the movie’s brisk telling typically presents these victories as too simply received, it’s a essential corrective to the skepticism the ladies nonetheless face (“They’re destined to fail,” Meera’s husband scoffs).
And at a time when the career faces increasing dangers in India, the movie’s religion within the powers of grassroots journalism is nothing wanting galvanizing.
Writing With Fireplace
Not rated. In Hindi, with subtitles. Working time: 1 hour 32 minutes. In theaters.