Born into Brothels
|Director:||Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman|
Born Into Brothels is an inspiring look at the transformative journey of a group of extraordinary children in Calcutta’s red light district. Voted Best Documentary by the National Board of Review and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Born Into Brothels, which was produced and directed by New York based filmmakers Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman, also garnered over 20 major film festival awards including the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and the Best Documentary Award at the Seattle International Film Festival.
A tribute to the resiliency of childhood and the restorative power of art, Born Into Brothels is a portrait of several unforgettable children who live in the red light district of Calcutta where their mothers work as prostitutes. Zana Briski, a New York based photographer, gives each of these youngsters a camera and teaches them how to take pictures, simultaneously causing them to look at their world with new eyes. Together with Ross Kauffman, Briski captures the magical way in which beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places and how a bright and promising future becomes a possibility for children who previously had no future at all.
Touching and heartfelt, yet devoid of sentimentality, Born Into Brothels defies the tear-stained tourist snapshot of the global underbelly. Briski spent years with these children and became a part of their lives. Their photographs are prisms into their souls, rather than anthropological curiosities, and a true testimony to the power of the indelible creative spirit.
Set in Calcutta’s notorious red-light district, Born Into Brothels explores the lives of its most vulnerable citizens. Directed by Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman, the picture’s eight small subjects shot the still footage themselves. Briski first teaches them how to shoot and edit. The children then put her lessons into practice. They gain confidence as the film proceeds, yet there’s always the threat that any of the girls, especially 14-year-old Suchitra, could be forced to “join the line” (work as a prostitute). For most, it’s only a matter of time. The boys don’t have it much better. Promising photographer Avijit’s mother is gone and his father is a drug addict. “Without help,” Briski notes, “they’re doomed,” so she takes matters a step further and tries to get them out of the brothels altogether. Produced for HBO, this heartbreaking, if inspiring film won the 2005 Academy Award for best documentary feature. —Kathleen C. Fennessy
The Academy Award-winning documentary Born Into Brothels depicts the struggles of the children of Calcutta prostitutes, who are given cameras in order to document their lives and find a way of escape. The score was composed by John McDowell, leader of the group Mamma Tongue, and a man with experience working in spiritual settings, from gospel to Sufi music. This goes a long way toward explaining the soundtrack’s overall inspirational tone. Those intimidated by something that would be too “world music” can also relax knowing that the flavor of this disc is…