Dir: Zana Briski & Ross Kauffman|US|2004|85 mins|15
Born into Brothels, by Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski, is the winner of the 77th annual Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. A tribute to the resiliency of childhood and the restorative power of art, Born into Brothels is a portrait of several unforgettable children who live in the red light district of Calcutta, where their mothers work as prostitutes. Zana Briski, a New York-based photographer, gives each of the children a camera and teaches them to look at the world with new eyes.
The most stigmatised people in Calcutta's red light district are not the prostitutes, but their children. In the face of abject poverty, abuse and despair, these kids have little possibility of escaping their mothers' fate or of creating another type of life.
The photographs taken by the children are not merely examples of remarkable observation and talent; they reflect something much larger, morally encouraging, and even politically volatile: art as an immensely liberating and empowering force.
Devoid of sentimentality, Born into Brothels defies the typical tear-stained tourist snapshot of the global underbelly. Briski spent years with these children and became part of their lives. Their photographs are prisms into their souls, rather than anthropological curiosities or primitive imagery, and a true testimony of the power of the indelible creative spirit.
“Why cultural film is no longer a secret, independent cinema is thriving against the odds, says the ICO's Catherine Des Forges, and closer to home than Hollywood”
Read the full article on the Culture Professionals Blog, The Guardian
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