FESTIVALS: India’s Writing With Fire wins Sundance audience award

Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh’s Writing With Fire won the Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, which wrapped on February 3. 

The film, about Khabar Lahariya, India’s only all-female news network, also won the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Impact for Change.

Produced by Thomas and Ghosh’s Black Ticket Films, the film follows the journalists working for Khabar Lahariya, a group of fearless Dalit women, as they investigate the incompetence of the local police force, listen to victims of caste and gender violence, and challenge long-standing, harmful practices that lead to injustice and intimidation. 

Meanwhile, Baz Poonpiriya’s One For The Road, produced by Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar Wai, was awarded the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Creative Vision. The film follows two twenty-something friends, one suffering from leukemia, as they travel round Thailand visiting old girlfriends and tying up loose ends.

Among other Sundance winners, Sian Heder’s drama CODA took four prizes, including the US Grand Jury Prize (Dramatic), Audience Award (US Dramatic), US Dramatic Special Jury Award for Ensemble Cast, and the Directing Award (US Dramatic). Earlier in the festival, Apple picked up world rights to the film in a record-breaking $25m deal. 

Blerta Basholli’s drama Hive, set in Kosovo following the war, took three prizes including the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize (Dramatic), Audience Award (World Cinema Dramatic), and Directing Award (World Cinema Dramatic). 

Summer Of Soul, a documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural festival directed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, picked up the US Grand Jury Prize (Documentary), and the Audience Award for US Documentary. Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee was awarded the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for Documentary.

Sundance took place this year in a hybrid format with online screenings on the festival’s platform and physical screenings at 28 locations across the US.