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Overall Rating
4.13

Awesome: 34.21%
Worth A Look55.26%
Average: 2.63%
Pretty Bad: 5.26%
Total Crap: 2.63%

4 reviews, 14 user ratings


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Born Into Brothels
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by Beth Gilligan

"Powerful documentary about the transformative power of art."
4 stars

In 1997, London-born photographer Zana Briski ventured into Calcutta’s notorious red light district. Her purpose was to get to know some of the women who worked there and to observe their lives, which she eventually hoped to photograph. To do so, she realized a huge sacrifice was in order: to be able to capture them on film effectively, she couldn’t approach the situation as an outsider. In a step unimaginable to most Westerners, Briski elected to move into the area.

This action had unexpected consequences – although Briski grew to know and befriend the women, the closest bonds she formed were with their children. Struck by their plight, Briski decided to teach them photography. Faced with the dual traumas of poverty and of having to observe their mothers’ work – and in the girls’ case, the inevitable prospect of following in the same footsteps – the children responded eagerly to Briski’s teachings. In some cases, this new skill literally changed their lives.

Born into Brothels is ultimately a testament to the transformative power of art. Training their eye through the camera’s lens, the children learned to see their own world differently and began to dream about other possibilities for themselves. In some cases, these dreams don’t pan out; Briski and her co-director Ross Kauffman can be commended for their (heartbreakingly) realistic depiction of the obstacles facing the children on all sides. However, for a few of the children, learning photography seems to have been the ticket to a better life, a way out of the brothel.

While Briski and Kauffman’s main focus is the wonderful photos the children produce, the film also addresses the issue of class in India. To many Indians, the children are untouchable because of who their mothers are. At the same time, Briski and Kauffman paint a grim picture of the circumstances under which the childrens’ parents raise them.

Born Into Brothels also contains a strong message of hope in the form of Briski herself. Her determination to help the children pursue educations and build better lives for themselves and her success in both these ventures is an enduring statement of the difference one person can make in this world.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=9619&reviewer=379
originally posted: 02/09/05 12:41:02
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Boston Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Boston Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Mill Valley Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival. For more in the 2005 Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/10/12 Gundoskve Aloha! kin 2 stars
2/07/12 Gundosgnn Aloha! fwi 2 stars
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT DESPITE THE BLEAK SUBJECT MATTER 'BORN INTO BROTHELS' CONTAINS MOMENTS OF PURE ELATION 4 stars
9/20/06 Dane Flynn This was the worst movie ive seen in my life, so damn boring and i had to read for 2h 1 stars
4/01/06 Suzz One of the best documentaries I've ever seen 5 stars
12/06/05 Phil M. Aficionado Beauty & hope amidst squalor; uplifting & disquieting -- like life; heartfelt & haunting 5 stars
12/01/05 kathy I totally fell in love with each and every child in this compelling documentary. 5 stars
10/19/05 john w sullivan very life enhancing 4 stars
8/21/05 Will if you didn't 'care about the kids' on this one, you have no soul 5 stars
3/09/05 Gini Poor camera work. Spellbound made us care more about the kids. Won Oscar on subject matter 3 stars
2/09/05 Ray Great movie 4 stars
1/30/05 Winston Steward Utterly Amazing. A wonderful film 5 stars
8/28/04 Winnie Dawson Entertaining, poignant look at the sociocultural effects of parent's choices on children. 5 stars
6/18/04 Mitali Chakraborty AMAZING....excellent job in portraying the culture, language and truth 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  08-Dec-2004 (R)
  DVD: 20-Sep-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  Zana Briski
  Ross Kauffman

Written by
  Zana Briski
  Ross Kauffman

Cast
  (documentary)



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