Monday, November 16, 2009

"Born Into Brothels" Review

I just wrote this as a response for a class called "Global Media, Local Cultures". I think it came out pretty well. If you've seen the movie, I'd love your thoughts. If you have yet to see it, please do.

Born into Brothels, a documentary film about a photography program for the children of Indian prostitutes was one of the most compelling and insightful documentaries I have ever seen. Set in the town of Sonagachi, just like Amsterdam’s red light district but more run-down and poverty stricken. Scenes of despair and empowerment are shot throughout. Although, the title suggests a more problematic situation, the documentary brings to life a community that usually has little to no awareness.

Director and photographer, Zana Briski who was originally stationed in India to photograph Prostitutes, quickly befriended their children from the numerous visits she had taken over the past five years while shooting. She began a program to give back to the community of children, who some, had never seen cameras before. The documentary highlights six of the students who were enrolled in the program. The students were given cameras to take photographs of the city, which would allow them to create their own artwork at no cost, an opportunity they would have never received without the program. The documentary gives the audience a look into each students work, showcasing different photographs while giving a biographical background of each student. Although all of the students are children of prostitutes, some are more fortunate than others. Some of the children are expected to “join the line” a term that expresses the disparaging fact of being forced into the life of a prostitute. However, some of the children are more likely (the males) to have an opportunity to go away to schools to continue their educations.

One of my favorite scenes in the film comes when the director who is also one of the main characters in the film, takes the students on a field trip to the beach. The beach town that is outside of the city, is a place where none of the students have ever visited. They are instantly overjoyed and ecstatic, snapping pictures of the landscapes and sceneries. This scene exemplifies the innocence of the children in a perfect manor, allowing the audience to become aware of the children who are subject to daily problematic situations that eventually lead to lives of unfortunate circumstances. The children swim in the ocean, run around on the beach and for once, are allowed to act like children. The group packs up and leaves once the sun retreats and fall asleep on the bus ride home to awake to the nighttime overcrowded city slums that they call their homes.

This film resonates not only with emotional compassion but on a social awareness level as well. Some critics may say that this film or this program does not benefit the community. In some ways it does not, It will not lift the community out of poverty or erase the confines of prostitution that have taken over the city. However, it has created opportunity that could not be found before this program was conceived, and I believe that is a enough for this film to be cited as a relevant and an important piece of filmmaking.

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