Born into Brothels
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Top Customer Reviews
The best thing about "Born Into Brothels" is that it allows the children to tell their story in their own words. Zana Briski's class of 8 photographers -who call her "Zana Auntie"- are children of prostitutes, born and raised among the harsh realities of Calcutta's Sonagachi red light district. There are 5 girls: Kochi, Tapasi, Shanti, Puja, and Suchitra, and 3 boys: Manik, Gour, and Avijit, ranging in age from 10 to 14 years, but mostly pre-teens. The documentary is dominated by interviews with the children and by their photographs, with occasional voiceover or footage of Zana Briski. The filmmakers are commendably respectful of the children and their decisions. These kids understand their situations very well and tend to be philosophical about it, yet many of them yearn for opportunities to escape life in the brothel. Interestingly, the kids are not fatherless children of single prostitutes, as I might have expected. Many of their mothers' are married and live with large extended families.Read more ›
We (i.e., The U.S.) don't often see the grittiest side of life. And when I say gritty, I MEAN gritty. The audience takes an emotional roller coaster ride with narrator and director Zana Brisky as she visits the red light district in Calcutta. Here she meets up with eight children who are the off-spring of prostitutes who "work the line", trying to make enough money to buy their next meal. The children seem doomed to a life of extreme poverty and, most likely for the girls, to also "work the line" when they reach the ripe old age of 14 or 15.
But Mrs. Brisky decides to teach the children how to shoot photographs of their surroundings (she gives each of them a simple point and shoot camera) and engages them in weekly classroom-like visits, showing them the photos they shot the previous days and telling them what they did right and wrong. The children are immediately smitten by the idea of becoming photographers, and they seem to be lifted out of their horrible surroundings, dreaming of becoming world-famous photo-journalists.
Throughout the film we see mostly the children, which I found to be extremely refreshing as far as documentaries go. Most documentaries (I feel) put too much emphasis on the documentary maker(s) and show shot after shot of them rather than the subjects their supposed to be telling the audience about. But not here. Only a fraction of the footage is dedicated to images of Mrs. Brisky, and those portions were vital to the film. Mrs.Read more ›
I think Ms Briski has her heart in the right place - she opens the minds of these underprivileged children to a world that they probably would never have given much thought to otherwise. Teaching them to take pictures made them 'see' another world outside their poverty-ridden neighborhood, to appreciate little accomplishments even in their deprived circumstances, and to dream of a better life.
That being said - though her efforts here are laudable, it is obvious through the course of the documentary and at the end, that 'rescuing' these children was never an easy task, nor something that had the guarantee of success. This doesn't diminish her efforts, but it does give us pause for thought - what could have been done to ensure these and other children in similar plight would be spared the fate awaiting them - a life of selling one's body for pittance, debasement, and a never-ending cycle of abuse and poverty. Education was promoted as the key to the childrens' futures here, but in reality all but two of the children chose to remain in the boarding schools that Ms Briski had painstakingly got them admitted into.
In reality, there are no easy answers. The documentary does a wonderful job of showing these children with their dreams of a brighter tomorrow.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
God please untwist these children's knotted fate; this film gives you a look into the lives of children born in to brothels and the social class structure that dictate who and... Read morePublished 19 months ago by P. Lazarus
One of the most amazing and heart wrenching documentaries I have seen in my entire life! The Third World is the real world and people in western cultures forget how the majority of... Read morePublished on July 13, 2014 by Deborah Grossman
Though I do speak French, when I ordered this, I did not notice that it is the French version so I was very disappointed! Read morePublished on May 11, 2014 by Julie M.
Excellent documentary. Socially relevant commentary about life inside of a brothel. What many would consider hell on earth, the innocence of children can still have the unwavering... Read morePublished on November 15, 2013 by Walter F. Brown