IMDb > Born Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids (2004)
Born Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids
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Born Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids (2004) More at IMDbPro »

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Born Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids -- Two documentary filmmakers chronicle their time in Sonagchi, Calcutta and the relationships they developed with children of prostitutes who work the city's notorious red light district.


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Release Date:
11 March 2005 (USA) See more »
Two documentary filmmakers chronicle their time in Sonagchi, Calcutta and the relationships they developed with children of prostitutes who work the city's notorious red light district. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Won Oscar. Another 20 wins & 5 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Don't miss this inspiring jewel of a film that concretely gives hope and shows us life through the photography and vivacity of children, and shows what a huge difference one person can make. 10 out of 10 st See more (70 total) »


  (in credits order)
Avijit Halder (as Avijit)
Shanti Das (as Shanti)
Puja Mukerjee (as Puja)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Zana Briski ... Herself "Zana Auntie" (uncredited)

Directed by
Zana Briski 
Ross Kauffman 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Zana Briski 
Ross Kauffman 

Produced by
Pamela Tanner Boll .... co-executive producer
Zana Briski .... producer
Lisa Cohen .... imaging producer
Geralyn White Dreyfous .... executive producer
Jannat Gargi .... imaging producer
Andrew Herwitz .... associate producer
Ross Kauffman .... producer
Ellen Peck .... associate producer
Original Music by
John McDowell 
Cinematography by
Zana Briski 
Ross Kauffman 
Film Editing by
Nancy Baker 
Ross Kauffman 
Sound Department
Daniel Baruch .... sound engineer
Eric Milano .... sound editor
Tom Paul .... sound re-recording mixer
Tom Paul .... supervising sound editor
Harikumar Pillai .... sound recordist
Anne Pope .... sound editor
Steve F.B. Smith .... sound consultant: Dolby
Visual Effects by
Bruno George .... imaging director
Animation Department
Frank Ferrigno .... photo animator
Editorial Department
Chris Mole .... on-line editor
Ruchika Muchhala .... post-production assistant
Benjamin Murray .... on-line editor
George Panos .... assistant editor
Bill Scott .... color timer
Eric Welsh .... associate editor
Niels Dachler .... on-line editor (uncredited)
Phillip Lefesi .... additional editor (uncredited)
Music Department
Daniel Baruch .... music producer
Daniel Baruch .... music recording mixer
Cameron Brown .... musician: bass
Ty Burhoe .... musician
Arnab Chakraborthy .... musician: sarod (as Arnab Chakrabarty)
Shivalik Ghoshal .... musician: tabla
Steve Gorn .... musician
Ananda Kahn .... musician: sarod
John McDowell .... music producer
John McDowell .... music recording mixer
John McDowell .... musician: drums and keyboards
Tracy McKnight .... music consultant
Allyn Miner .... musician
John Vartan .... musician
Eric Milano .... assistant music engineer (uncredited)
Other crew
Partha Banerjee .... office translator
Diana Barrett .... support
Betsy Bliss .... additional supporter
Hunter Boll .... support
Pamela Tanner Boll .... support (as Pamela Boll)
Stephen Carroll .... insurance: D.R. Reiff & Associates
Malobika Choudhury .... office translator (as Malobika Chaudhuri)
Jim Dreyfous .... additional supporter
Lynn Edens .... support
Wesley Edens .... support
Kathy Eldon .... additional supporter: Creative Visions
Vikram Jayanti .... creative consultant
Amy Kauffman .... support
Erika Kauffman .... additional supporter
Robert Kauffman .... support
Rodd Kauffman .... additional supporter
Bari Khan .... office translator
Wendy Knack .... additional supporter
Tom Langtry .... additional supporter
Vadi Langtry .... additional supporter
Bruce Laski .... accounting services
Cristina Linclau .... coordinator: exhibition
Cathy McCormack .... additional supporter
Tony McCormack .... additional supporter
Susan J. Mitchell .... additional supporter
Priyadarshini Nandy .... location translator
Ellen Peck .... additional supporter
Harikumar Pillai .... researcher
Harikumar Pillai .... script supervisor
Harikumar Pillai .... translator
Samuel D. Pollard .... creative consultant (as Sam Pollard)
John Rocco .... title designer
Annie Roney .... international sales: Roco Films
Arup Sengupta .... location translator
Craig Severance .... support
Kristy Severance .... support
Michael Shimkin .... additional supporter
John Starr .... additional supporter
George Stranahan .... additional supporter
Jim Swartz .... support
Susan Swartz .... support
Jan D. Unger .... additional supporter
Bob Vila .... support
Marjorie Weiss Martay .... additional supporter
Robert Wise .... legal services
Bonnie Abaunza .... special thanks
Charles Abbott .... special thanks
Ananda Abinou .... acknowledgment
Adriana Alcala .... special thanks
Christopher Anderson-Bazzoli .... special thanks (as Chris Anderson-Bazzoli)
Raney Aronson .... special thanks
Heike Bachmann .... acknowledgment
Randall Balsmeyer .... special thanks (as Randy Balsmeyer)
Katie Barnes .... acknowledgment
Maggie Barrett .... special thanks
Susan Behr .... special thanks
Janie Joseland Bennett .... very special thanks
Rachèle Bevilacqua .... acknowledgment
Maina Bhagat .... special thanks
Bob Bianchini .... acknowledgment
Bodhi .... acknowledgment
Samantha N. Box .... special thanks
Richard Briski .... acknowledgment
Violette Briski .... acknowledgment
Merav Brooks .... special thanks
Micha Bruinvels .... special thanks
Matisse Bustos .... special thanks
Anthony Carbone .... acknowledgment
Max Charruyer .... special thanks
Billy Childs .... special thanks
Larry Confino .... special thanks
Nicholas Conover .... special thanks
Sak Costanzo .... special thanks (as Sak Constanzo)
Miriam Cutler .... special thanks
Diana Danin .... special thanks
Bishakha Datta .... special thanks
Heidi DeRuiter .... special thanks
Carlos Duran .... very special thanks
Tylor Durand .... acknowledgment
Chris Edwards .... special thanks
Simon Egleton .... special thanks
Margaret Engel .... special thanks
Jason Eskenazi .... acknowledgment
Elliott Fey .... special thanks
Tobias Fields .... special thanks
Attilia M. Fierro .... special thanks (as Fierro Attilia)
Sara Finmann .... special thanks
Drika Freire .... special thanks
Helen Garrett .... special thanks
Eddie Gartz .... special thanks
Árpad Gerecsey .... special thanks
Mary Giudera .... acknowledgment
Anders Goldfarb .... acknowledgment
Julie Goldstein .... special thanks
Peter Golub .... special thanks
Gail Goodman .... special thanks
Mylene Graziano .... special thanks
Tracy Griffith .... acknowledgment
Trevor Brodie Hall .... special thanks (as Trevor Hall)
Melissa Halsey .... acknowledgment
Sybrand Hekking .... special thanks
Liz Heller .... very special thanks
Lee Hirsch .... special thanks
Jaime Holguin .... acknowledgment
Sarie Horowitz .... special thanks
Lana Iny .... special thanks
Audrey Jones .... special thanks
Nathaniel Kahn .... special thanks
Anand Kamalakar .... special thanks
Daniel Katz .... very special thanks
Barbara Kauffman .... acknowledgment
Richard Kauffman .... acknowledgment
Ron Kauffman .... acknowledgment
Kathy Kelehan .... special thanks
Senain Kheshgi .... special thanks (as Senain Keshgi)
Michaela Kirst .... special thanks
Bernice Koch .... special thanks
Bart Kummer .... special thanks (as Dr. Bart Kummer)
Rama Lakshmi .... special thanks
Gara Lamarche .... special thanks
Bob LaSala .... special thanks
Meredith Lavitt .... special thanks
Phillip Lefesi .... special thanks
Aileen Leijten .... special thanks (as Aileen Leitjen)
Michelle Lepak .... acknowledgment
Alfred Linde .... acknowledgment
Dina Linde .... acknowledgment
Keith Linde .... acknowledgment
Laurette Linde .... acknowledgment
Don Loga .... special thanks
Bonnie Long .... special thanks
Maggie MacKay .... special thanks
Jeff Magness .... acknowledgment
Mr. Maheshwari .... special thanks
Mrs. Maheshwari .... special thanks
Jessica Manzi .... special thanks
Tim Mapp .... special thanks
Helen Marcus .... special thanks
Aimee Marks .... special thanks
Jim McDonald .... special thanks
Jim McKenna .... special thanks
Sarah McNeill .... acknowledgment
Jacques Menasche .... special thanks
Ismail Merchant .... special thanks
Raymond W. Merritt .... special thanks
Joel Meyerowitz .... special thanks
Mookie .... acknowledgment
Atiyah Muhammad .... special thanks
Michiel Munneke .... special thanks
Sheila Nevins .... very special thanks
Zohar Nir-Amitin .... special thanks
Liz Ogilvie .... special thanks
Kerstin Park-Labella .... special thanks
Geeta Patel .... special thanks
Karen Paul .... special thanks
Catherine Pledge .... special thanks
Robert Pledge .... very special thanks
Gary Pollard .... special thanks
Joe Popp .... special thanks
Mohan Prakash .... special thanks
Annie Proulx .... special thanks
Govind Punwani .... special thanks
Ambreen Qureshi .... special thanks
Ana Racelis .... special thanks
Vinay Rajpal .... special thanks
Satyajit Ray .... acknowledgment
Robert Redford .... special thanks
Evan Reed .... special thanks
Ish Reina .... special thanks
Jim Rider .... special thanks
Fred Ritchin .... special thanks
Lizette Rivera .... special thanks
Don Robinson .... special thanks
Shalu Rozario .... special thanks
Steve Ruhl .... special thanks
Pete Sabin .... acknowledgment
Nanita Greene Samuels .... acknowledgment
Gregoire Sauter .... special thanks
Diana Schmidt .... special thanks
Kirk Simon .... special thanks
Victor Sira .... acknowledgment
Calvin Skaggs .... special thanks (as Cal Skaggs)
Jeffrey D. Smith .... special thanks
Alexandra Spadea .... special thanks
Reinhold Speigler .... acknowledgment
Chuck Spezzano .... acknowledgment
Lency Spezzano .... acknowledgment
Spirit .... acknowledgment
Sploodge .... acknowledgment
Buddy Squires .... special thanks
Lina Srivastava .... special thanks
Heather Stephenson .... special thanks
Michael Stranahan .... special thanks
The Tarrant Family .... acknowledgment
Jay Tarrant .... acknowledgment
Mary Tchorbajian .... special thanks
Allan Ure .... special thanks
Mark Urman .... very special thanks
Joyce Vaughn .... special thanks
Fred Walker .... acknowledgment
Gary Weingarten .... acknowledgment
Scott Weir .... special thanks
Sean Welch .... special thanks
Diane Weyermann .... very special thanks
Alyson E. Winick .... very special thanks (as Alyson Winick)
Judy Zezmar .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated R for some sequences of strong language
85 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Mamuni:[from extra scene on the DVD] When I have the camera in my hand, it tickles my hand and I must take a picture right away.See more »
Movie Connections:
Pairon mein bandhan haiSee more »


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43 out of 48 people found the following review useful.
Don't miss this inspiring jewel of a film that concretely gives hope and shows us life through the photography and vivacity of children, and shows what a huge difference one person can make. 10 out of 10 st, 14 April 2004
Author: Dilip Barman ( from Durham, NC (USA)

Today I saw "Born into Brothels" at day 3 of 4 of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Even with another day left, I have some confidence that this will be the film I most appreciated seeing at this festival, and in fact is one of the most inspiring films I have seen in a long time. Directors and producers Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman also hosted a question and answer session after the film, and I had the privilege of meeting and talking with Zana Briski, whose intimate involvement in this film and her selfless efforts have given me tremendous admiration for what she does; as I said in the Q&A period, if we had a few more people like her, the world would be a vastly better place for all of us.

Ms. Briski is an established photographer and now first time director who began in 1997 to explore the lives of sex workers in Calcutta's red-light district, Sonagachi, where over 7000 women and (disgustingly sadly) girls are prostitutes. In order to better understand them, Zana lived for months at a time with them, and the children quickly befriended her. The children were curious to try their hands at taking pictures, and Zana helped to empower them and see the world through their eyes by teaching them photography and acquiring point-and-shoot 35mm film cameras for them, as well as helping them to critique and edit their pictures.

The resulting pictures that the children took between the years 2000 and 2003 are striking. Some of the children clearly have innate talent in composition and artistry (see, for example, shot 17 "Girl on a Roof" or 14 "Horse", at the Kids with Cameras site mentioned at the bottom of my review), and all of them have works portraying the vitality of life so much so that Zana helped get one child invited to be part of a children's jury at a World Press Photo Foundation photo exhibit in Amsterdam in 2002, and for him to actually attend.

Zana admits in the film that she is not a social worker, but wanted very much to help the boys and girls, for otherwise their future was a dismal one lacking hope beyond prostitution, drugs, pimping, and crime. She organized a photo exhibit in a Calcutta bookstore, garnering Zana's project and the individual children television and newspaper coverage. Zana has recently set up an organization, Kids with Cameras, that sells their prints to raise money for them, with 100% of the profits going to them. Twelve of these prints were the ones chosen for the 2003 "Amnesty International" calendar, and she even exhibited and auctioned the children's work at Sotheby's. She has helped to get several of the children into good boarding schools and recently helped a few to get email access and English lessons.

The film itself is technically beautiful, with a melange of colors, sounds, and activity, centered on the children but also including others. The filmmakers in no way hide the unsavory life in Sonagachi, including disturbing cursing against the children, hopelessness of being able to in any way be involved in normal society, having no governmental support, facing tremendous bureaucracy to get anything changed even with Ms. Briski's help, and the total lack of police investigation or protection 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 fast camera pans, red overtints, and grainy film at times to portray an environment where participants would not want to be carefully filmed. They could 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 children and hope that could be offered them.

If you have the opportunity to see this film at a festival, don't miss it. I understand that HBO/Cinemax may be distributing the film as well to afford a much wider audience. It is a heartwarming film 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 play and their ambition to move out of the community. For the quality and uniqueness of the film, as well as the tremendous service that Zana Briski portrays, this film gets 10 stars out of 10 in my book. Don't miss this jewel of a film - and consider supporting the work that goes on.

--Dilip Barman April 3, 2004

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