Haobam Paban Kumar's muckraking film A Cry in the Dark exemplifies the necessity of social activist documentary filmmaking -- as it brings to the world's attention a dire, ongoing situation all but shunned by the international press. In the summer of 2004, in the east Indian state of Manipur, the state police troops known as the Assam Rifles arrested, raped, and murdered in cold blood Thangiam Manorama, a young woman of no key stature within the caste system. A justifiable outcry arose in local villages, from feminists and various protest groups. The marchers, however, ran headfirst into an onslaught of shockingly cold brutality at the hands of the Rifles, who fired bullets into the fray, threw out teargas canisters, and viciously thrashed with clubs every participant they could find, before jovially forcing the protesters, at gunpoint, to beat one another and perform somersaults down a muddy road for the officers' amusement. Kumar visited the scene with his cameras and shot one heartbreaking reel after another. The protests climax in one final act of desperation, as one of the participants sets himself ablaze -- but the marchers refuse to recant, even then. Kumar's film thus becomes a difficult but essential meditation on vile abuses of power and the courage to stand up for justice in the face of life-threatening consequences.
~ Nathan Southern, All Movie Guide