Thursday, March 31, 2005

Reviewlet: Born into Brothels

A 2005 Oscar winning documentary by and about photographer Zana Briski's encounter with the children living in Calcutta's brothels.

At first irritated by the selective footage this (and every documentary) uses to tell only one version of the story, I was soon taken in by the greater story, emphasizing the potential and the plight of these brothel children of Calcutta, depicting the desperate lives these kids lead in Calcutta's prostitute-laden labyrinthine red light district, and yet the beautiful images they can create, when given cameras and tutelage by an earnest photographer (though I am a bit peeved that after spending years there, she never learned their language).

The cinematography was beautiful, the photographs both the photographer and the children created were absolutely stunning. In addition to the excellent job the film does in personalizing the story, there is a nice universality to the film, on the vast wasted potential in children everywhere in the world. And also an inspiration, what one person can do, and what she can't, as we find that the Zana Auntie's efforts largely led to failure, and even her successes meant the virtual excision of these children from their parents into boarding schools, as these budding Eliza Doolittle's are to be bred into a far different world from their parents and allowed little contact with home.

Grade: A

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