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Admist the apparent growing prosperity of India, there is a dark underbelly of poverty of another side of the nation that is little known. This film is a chronicle of filmmakers Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman's efforts to show that world of Calcutta's red light district. To do that, they inspired a special group of children of the prostitutes of the area to photograph the most reluctant subjects of it. As the kids excel in their new found art, the filmmakers struggle to help them have a chance for a better life away from the miserable poverty that threatens to crush their dreams. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I often disagree with the academy award nominations. It's usually too political to nominate the best movies and performances of the year. Born Into Brothels is an exception, it was nominated and won! The only mistake was not nominating it for best picture.
Brothels is the story of a woman, Zana Briski, who traveled to Calcutta to photograph the brothels. She fell in love with the children and began teaching them photography. The movie is seen through their eyes.
The result is extraordinary in so many ways. Calcutta's red light district is interesting in and of itself. The setting is the first extraordinary feature. The filming makes you feel like you are there. Director Ross Kauffman captures the feeling of being trapped in dark allies with a dark future. Without a director commentary running though the film, you're able to see it all by the way it's been directed. The dark past and future of these families is presented in a beautiful and horrific way.
Secondly, the children are lovable. The story focuses on 8 or 9 children of prostitutes. Each one is unique. Some are incredibly funny, others serious, some are troubled, and at least one has an undeniable talent for photography. You'll leave the theater feeling like you know them.
This is documentary film at its best. It transports us to another country and makes us love the troubled children. What was troubling to me was having to leave the theater never to see these troubled children again. Putting aside the incredible movie-making abilities of these creators, Zana Briski is a true hero.
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