Indian Journalism Documentary Screened At Panel Discussion


On March 25, the India Center at UCF partnered with the Global Peace Film Festival and WUCF for an Indie Lens Pop-Up screening of the Academy Award-nominated feature documentary film Writing with Fire.  The goal of Indie Lens Pop-Up is to bring people together for film screenings and community-driven conversations through partnering with local organizations to showcase selected documentaries from PBS’s Independent Lens.

Writing with Fire follows the journalists of Khabar Lahariya, an all women run newspaper, as they transition from print to digital in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India.  The journalists employ the power of online media, using smartphones and YouTube, to grow their reach and effect social change.  They redefine what it means to have journalistic power in a news environment dominated by men.  The film shows how the work of Khabar Lahariya has exposed illegal stone mining, brought health services to isolated villages and called attention to fix a broken road previously ignored. The film leaves the viewer wanting to find out more about the daring group of reporters. The final scene shows Meera Devi, chief reporter, speaking about the future of Khabar Lahariya. She states, “When future generations ask us, ‘What were you doing when the country was changing and the media was being silenced?’ Khabar Lahariya will be able to say proudly that we were holding the powerful to account.”

Following the screening, Film Professor Lisa Mills, Ph.D., led a panel discussion with Film Lecturer Heerak Shah and local journalists Renata Sago and Maria Padilla.   The panel discussed why local journalism is important to bring about social change.  They also remarked on the courage of the featured journalists, often relying on meager resources.  When facing challenges from the community and their own families, they do not back down. During the audience question and answer session, one audience-member noted that she went into the film thinking that it would be a documentary about journalism.  Her takeaway, however, was that the journalists were like “…frogs being thrown into a boiling pot of water as young women who had to learn on the fly.  And, to see them creep into their confidence was … the best part of the movie.”

View the full panel discussion here:




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