Parents' Guide to

Writing with Fire

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Inspiring, powerful docu about Indian women journalists.

Movie NR 2021 93 minutes
Writing with Fire Movie poster

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Is It Any Good?

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This is a powerful, thought-provoking, and feel-good documentary that humbles, inspires, and reminds audiences of the importance of journalism. The brave, intelligent, hardworking Dalit women of Uttar Pradesh (reportedly one of India's most corrupt states) who work for Khabar Lahariya expose the ancient, deeply held prejudice that still exists in India -- to the point that crimes against the Dalit aren't taken seriously when reported to local authorities. Thomas and Ghosh introduce audiences not only to the paper's various editors and reporters but also to the types of stories they investigate, like the lack of indoor plumbing in certain villages, the repeated gang rape of an older Dalit woman by men who go unpunished, and mine safety violations that have led to death or injury.

There are also moments of levity, like the excitement and awkwardness of learning new tech (some of the women initially struggle to master tablets and smartphones), or when Suneeta self-deprecatingly explains that she's still single because her family can't afford a dowry for the sort of man who'd be willing to let her work. In addition to plucky Suneeta, the movie follows veteran chief reporter Meera, who was married at 14 and is a mother of three who has managed to earn multiple degrees and run the newsroom, and Shyamkali, who's young and is a fast learner. It's not easy to hear about the stories the women investigate; they can be devastating. But as a directorial debut, this is a triumph, and the directors clearly bring to light the upsetting but important topics that Khabar Lahariya explores.

Movie Details

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