Friday, March 11, 2005

Oscar Winning Documentary - Born Into Brothels

Film Review - LokVani- Chitra Parayath : "In the Oscar winning documentary, 'Born into Brothels', filmmakers Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman use art as a liberating force. Equipping children of sex workers from a brothel in Calcutta with cameras, Briski teaches them how to use photography to record the world around them and their own lives.

These children of pimps and prostitutes live in absolute squalor; the Calcutta red light district is as dismal a place as one could find anywhere. The film is miraculously uplifting, largely due to the spirited, bright children who, though accepting of their fate, display remarkably deep artistic talent and a zest for life that is inspirational.

The Oscar winning documentary is not without flaws; the sleekly produced images somehow succeed in undermining the true reality of the life the children lead in the brothels. While one appreciates the filmmakers’ commitment to leveraging the children’s photographs for their own welfare, the film suffers from a simulataneously voyeuristic and self-congratulatory attitude.

The film has also attracted criticism from some media watch dogs in India and abroad who wonder why the film does not acknowledge the many Indian groups that are active in rehabilitation of prostitutes and their children. The premise of ‘Born into Brothels’ is about disadvantaged kids using art to better their lives; it dwells a little too long on their western saviors and the battles fought by them to help these kids, and not enough of the battles the kids fight every day of their lives.

Related website –

By teaching the art and skills of photography, Kids with Cameras empowers children growing up in difficult circumstances and allows them to appreciate the beauty and dignity of their own expression. We send exceptional photographers to communities around the world to lead the workshops, which emphasize artistic excellence and individualized attention, and which encourage a holistic approach to art and education. We present the kids' photos to the world through exhibits, books and film. Kids with Cameras works beyond photography to strengthen the children's general education as well as their communities, linking with other organizations to work most effectively. Armed with self-respect, discipline and creativity, Kids with Cameras joins our kids to a global community that values them as artists, individuals and citizens."

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