Friday, March 25, 2005

Born Into Brothels

BORN INTO BROTHELS (Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman, 2004)

In the Oscar-winning BORN INTO BROTHELS documentarians Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman venture into Calcutta’s red light district to help the children of prostitutes. Society turns a blind eye to these kids because of who their parents are. Without intervention it is very likely that they too will end up in the sex or drug trades. Briski gives the children cameras and teaches them photography. She sells the children’s photos to fund private educations that will lift them out of their dire circumstances.

Fictional films such as Fran├žois Truffaut’s SMALL CHANGE or Charles Laughton’s THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER speak of the resiliency of children under the most trying conditions. BORN INTO BROTHELS depicts the real thing with power and sorrow. Many of these kids seem relatively happy and well adjusted despite living in extreme poverty, filth, and degradation. Their bravery is inspiring, but the future that awaits many of them is depressing. Briski’s valiant efforts to improve their lives meet bureaucratic and familial opposition that leaves the children doomed to repeat a cycle that has existed for generations. BORN INTO BROTHELS simmers with righteous anger, but it never boils over. Briski and Kauffman are cognizant of the odds against their hard work. Even if they can save just one child, they feel it is worth the time and the heartache. Seeing these children is all we need to understand the passion the filmmakers have for rescuing them.

Grade: B-

(Review first aired on the March 15, 2005 NOW PLAYING)

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