# Similar Movies Like Born into Brothels
Born into Brothels 2004
About: The academy award winning documentary depicting the lives of kid prostitutes in the red light district of Songachi, Calcutta. Director Zana Briski went to photograph the prostitutes when she met and became mates with their children. Briski began giving photography lessons to the kids and became aware that their photography might be a method for them to lead better lives.
Released: 11 Mar 2005 Director: Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman Writers: Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman Actors: Kochi, Avijit Halder, Shanti Das, Manik Genres: Documentary, Biography, News
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Born into Brothels Reviews:

Today I saw "Born into Brothels" at day 3 of 4 of the Full Frame Documentary Movie Festival. Even with other day left, I have some confidence that this will be the movie I most appreciated seeing at this festival, and in fact is one of the most inspiring movies I have seen in a long time. Directors and producers Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman also hosted a question and respond session after the film, and I had the privilege of meeting and talking with Zana Briski, whose intimate involvement in this movie and her selfless efforts have given me tremendous admiration for what she does; as I told in the Q&A period, if we had a several more folks like her, the globe would be a vastly better zone for all of us.Ms. Briski is an established photographer and actually first time director who began in 1997 to discover the lives of sex workers in Calcutta's red-light district, Sonagachi, where over 7000 girls and (disgustingly sadly) women are prostitutes. In order to better understand them, Zana lived for months at a time with them, and the kids quickly befriended her. The kids were curious to test their hands at taking pictures, and Zana helped to empower them and see the globe through their eyes by teaching them photography and acquiring point-and-shoot 35mm movie cameras for them, as well as supporting them to critique and edit their pictures.The resulting pictures that the kids took between the years 2000 and 2003 are striking. Some of the kids clearly have innate talent in composition and artistry (see, for example, shot 17 "Girl on a Roof" or 14 "Horse", at the Children with Cameras website mentioned at the bottom of my review), and all of them have works portraying the vitality of life so much so that Zana helped receive one kid invited to be part of a children's jury at a Globe Press Image Foundation image exhibit in Amsterdam in 2002, and for him to now attend.Zana admits in the movie that she is not a social worker, but wanted very much to support the men and girls, for otherwise their future was a dismal one lacking hope beyond prostitution, drugs, pimping, and crime. She organized a image exhibit in a Calcutta bookstore, garnering Zana's project and the individual kids tv and newspaper coverage. Zana has recently set up an organization, Children with Cameras, that sells their prints to raise cash for them, with 100% of the profits going to them. Twelve of these prints were the ones selected for the 2003 "Amnesty International" calendar, and she even exhibited and auctioned the children's work at Sotheby's. She has helped to receive few of the kids into nice boarding schools and recently helped a several to receive mail access and English lessons.The movie itself is technically beautiful, with a melange of colors, sounds, and activity, centered on the kids but also including others. The filmmakers in no method hide the unsavory life in Sonagachi, including disturbing cursing vs the children, hopelessness of being able to in any method be involved in normal society, having no governmental support, facing tremendous bureaucracy to receive anything changed even with Ms. Briski's help, and the total lack of police investigation or security as painfully brought to light when one child's mother is killed by a pimp in a "kitchen fire". In making the film, Mr. Kauffman and Ms. Briski effectively used quick camera pans, red overtints, and grainy movie at times to portray an environment where participants would not wish to be carefully filmed. They should have made this a sad and detailed documentary about this red light slum, but instead chose to recognize its nature but focus on the innocence of the kids and hope that should be offered them.If you have the occasion to see this movie at a festival, don't miss it. I understand that HBO/Cinemax may be distributing the movie as well to afford a much wider audience. It is a heartwarming movie that left me with a jumble of emotions - hopefulness and hopelessness; incredulity and shock at human nature combined with tremendous admiration at the selflessness and difference that one person can make; sadness at the overwhelming poverty, filth, and insouciance of a society that lets a community like Songagachi exist and yet tremendous happiness at the children's glee in living their lives with innocent enjoy and their ambition to transport out of the community. For the quality and uniqueness of the film, as well as the tremendous service that Zana Briski portrays, this movie gets 10 stars out of 10 in my book. Don't miss this jewel of a movie - and consider helping the work that goes on.--Dilip Barman April 3, 2004


In India, red light districts are booming in towns like Mumbai, Delhi, and Calcutta where millions of transient boys live and work far away from their homes and wives. The oldest and the biggest of these is Sonagachi in Calcutta where the girls have organized into a sex trade union of more than 5,000 active workers and have spread awareness about AIDS and HIV, making Sonagachi one of the several red light districts in the country that does not agree clients without condoms. Topics to a class system that puts them on the lowest rung of Indian society, the mostly illegitimate kids of the sex workers are also expected to "join the line" when they reach a certain age. Minor women are the most sought after in the brothels and safe the highest price, making it very hard for the parents to allow them leave, especially when the only another alternative may be the starvation of their whole family.In 1997, photographer Zana Briski was assigned to capture photos of Sonagachi. While the girls were reluctant to allow her into their lives, the kids quickly responded and Briski became a resident of the brothel for five years. During that time, she provided the kids with mission and shoot cameras, set up classes in photography, and trained them to document the harsh reality of their everyday lives. The effect is the Oscar nominated documentary Born Into Brothels, a movie that takes us inside the squalid brothels and allows us to see the globe through the eyes of some of its most vulnerable residents, five women and three boys, ages ten to fourteen. Shot in dazzling color using a digital camera, we receive to know the kids through their photos.There is Kochi, age 10, who is strong, resilient, tough, and sensitive. Avijit, age 12, seems to be the most talented of the group. He draws, paints, takes pictures and, through Briski's patient efforts, was able to receive a passport to be a part of a photo-editing panel in Amsterdam. Shanti, age 11, is most eager to learn but is troubled and often feuds with her brother Manik. The others: Gour, Puja, Tapasi, and Suchitra all present a special ability to search beauty in their ugly environment. The movie documents Briski's uphill efforts to zone the kids in boarding schools to escape the cycle of poverty and exploitation. Some manage to search territories in the schools but the largest obstacle is shown to be the children's own mothers and guardians, often protective out of the sheer necessity for survival.Born Into Brothels is a testimony to the transforming power of art and of one individual's ability to create a difference. Showing the children's art to Western audiences has helped to raise cash for the Sonagachi children's education. It may also serve to create folks more aware of the potential talent of millions of another third globe kids who struggle everyday for existence on the streets, the orphanages, and the refugee camps of our teeming world.


This is a beautifully conceived and directed film. I knew tiny about the red light district of Calcutta and certainly nothing of the nice kids whose photographs are not only dramatic but also a software of empowerment, albeit not entirely successful. One of the greatest documentaries of 2004. There certainly have been few perfect films about the misery and hopeless nature of life in red light districts throughout the world, particularly southeast Asia. But this film's decision to focus on the kids who not only are born in the brothels, but essentially live their whole lives within this damp and dismal walls. Director/photographer Zana Briski is to commended for bringing this to light. Few of my mates had deep empathy for her frustrating experiences with the Indian bureaucracy as she tries to receive the children's art work noticed. Nice film.



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