Mumbai: Director Rintu Thomas says it is a great moment for the country and her team after the Indian documentary feature “Writing With Fire” advanced to the next level in the documentary feature category at the 94th edition of the Academy Awards.

“Pebbles”, India’s official entry in the international feature film category, however, is out of the Oscars race.

Directed by Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, both debutants, “Writing With Fire” chronicles the rise of Khabar Lahariya, India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women.

According to the shortlists announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Wednesday, the documentary is among the 15 films that have entered the next round of the 2022 Academy Awards. One hundred thirty-eight films were originally eligible in the category.

Thomas took to Twitter and shared a screenshot of the announcement.

“#WritingWithFire is on the @TheAcademy Shortlist. What a moment for my entire team behind this indie Indian doc. What a moment for the Indian documentary community. We are richer with the stories we choose to tell, big love @KhabarLahariya,” she tweeted.

“Writing With Fire” follows this ambitious group of Dalit wonder women – led by their chief reporter, Meera – as the team switches from print to digital in order to stay relevant.

Armed with smartphones and the courage and conviction one must be born with, they investigate the incompetence of the local police force, listen to and stand by victims of caste and gender violence, and challenge long-standing, harmful practices that lead to injustice and intimidation.

Other titles in the list are: Ascension, Attica, Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry, Faya Dayi, The First Wave, Flee, In the Same Breath, Julia, President, Procession, The Rescue, Simple as Water, Summer of Soul ( Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), and The Velvet Underground.

Meanwhile, “Pebbles”, India’s official entry in the international feature film category, could not advance to the next level.

Helmed by first-time director Vinothraj PS, the acclaimed drama–titled “Koozhangal” in Tamil–follows an alcoholic abusive husband who, after his long-suffering wife runs off, sets out with his young son to find her and bring her back.

In the international feature film category, 15 films are still in the running for the top prize. Films from 92 countries were eligible in the category.

Japanese film Drive My Car, Flee representing Denmark, Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero from Iran, and The Hand of God hailing from Italy are billed as frontrunners in this category.

“Great Freedom (Austria), Playground (Belgium), I’m Your Man (Germany), Hive (Kosovo), Prayers for the Stolen (Mexico), The Worst Person in the World (Norway), Plaza Catedral (Panama), Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (Bhutan), Compartment No. 6 (Finland), Lamb (Iceland) and The Good Boss (Spain) are also part of this line-up.

The Academy also announced shortlists in eight other categories for the upcoming awards ceremony: documentary short subject, makeup and hairstyling, music (original score), music (original song), animated short film, live action short film, sound and visual effects.

The final nominations will be announced on February 8, with the awards ceremony scheduled to be held on March 27.

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