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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brutal perspective
I can only briefly comment on the actual documentary as I have not yet bought the DVD:
I had not expected to feel touched and mesmerised by this film, especially considering that before, I had been ignorant and felt indifferent towards India and its culture. Zana Briski, the brain behind the camera, accidently fell upon the harsh realities of children born into the...
Published on 9 Mar 2006 by Shell

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars .....boring
The documentary was made by a typical "I want to change the world but haven't got a clue how to do it" volunteer. I expected in depth research but all I saw was some kids taking pictures that by coincidence also live in the brothels. They don't show a lot of information on the brothels either. It's a "feel good" documentary but doesn't offer a lot of context.
Published on 25 Jan 2010 by J. D. T. Noot


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brutal perspective, 9 Mar 2006
By 
Shell (West Midlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Born Into Brothels [DVD] [2005] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
I can only briefly comment on the actual documentary as I have not yet bought the DVD:
I had not expected to feel touched and mesmerised by this film, especially considering that before, I had been ignorant and felt indifferent towards India and its culture. Zana Briski, the brain behind the camera, accidently fell upon the harsh realities of children born into the red light district and, witnessing the enthusiasm of some of these children towards her camera, gave 10 children each a point-and-shoot camera.
The film documents the lives of the children, Briski's attempt to gain them school places and their photographs which, surprisingly, turn out to be poignant and attentive pieces of art.
These impoverished children, far from envoking just pity, have inspired and uplifted many audiences of this film. The ending notes, however, will sadden some of you who expect a 'technicolour-Hollywood' ending. Unfortunately, the socio-economic stigma of these children just doesn't seem to want to release itself.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!, 10 Jan 2009
By 
A. Oulton (England) - See all my reviews
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This film is incredible. Although it's a documentary, the style and beautiful cinematography at times feels like a 'normal' film. The footage is interspersed with amazing photography from both the director, and the children that were given the cameras. This film focuses on the kids growing up in Calcutta's red light district, and the problems they face growing up as 'illegal children'. Although this film is deeply sad, and the comments some of the children come out with heartbreaking, the film also tries to show the happiness that is brought into a few children's lives by being given a camera and an opportunity to learn. The film ultimately ends on a fairly low note, and you have to be prepared that this film is gritty and will stick with you. Definitely worth watching though.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That There Might Be Witness: Through the Eyes of Children, 17 July 2007
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This review is from: Born Into Brothels [DVD] [2005] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
It is said that suffering develops character. Surely, when photographer Zana Briski went on a photography pilgrimage to the red light district in Sonagchi, Calcutta, in India, she discovered more character, and in smaller shape and size, then she might have imagined. Peering through a lens into the darkest shadows of life - into the world of prostitution - to capture the images the world wishes not to see, not, at least, from this angle of truth, she saw between the life-battered women... their children.

When we think of brothels, however we might think of them, how many think of children? Whether we think of these places and their inhabitants as figures of perversity, embodiments of lust, or the tragic painted clowns of the joke that is humanity, it is probably more true than not that these women are rarely seen as, well, women. They are perhaps at best merely meat, merely body parts, to be used and abused and then tossed aside. What Zana Briski's photo lens reveals is that these are indeed women, human beings, and, for better or for worse, also mothers, daughters, wives, sisters. We see in this montage of photos and film combined, women who are deformed by the ugliness inside. They are broken, they are stunningly and fiercely angry at the world that has so betrayed them, yet they also have their moments of hope and tenderness.

All of this, and more, falls upon the heads of their children. Weaving between these women are their little ones, boys and girls who grow up around the perversities of lust and abuse. What might such children be like? This is the sharp focus of Briski's lens.

Perhaps we need to look at ugliness to see beauty in contrast. The faces and spirits of these children contain both. They have in them the despair of those forgotten and betrayed by the world. Society all around them refuses them a place outside the red light district. They are already banned from normalcy. They have been witness to humans at their worst, and no one outside wishes to bear the weight of such witness. Yet they will not be silenced, and if we do not wish to hear them speak, then Briski has given them cameras to let them capture their worlds, inside and out, and bring these images to us.

What these children capture on film is nothing less than breathtaking. They miss nothing. Their intense talent and power of seeing discovered, this film also shows us how Briski works to bring this artistic discovery to the world, meanwhile also fighting to give these children a chance, slim as it is, to a life of normalcy. Key to this is education, yet as she soon learns, no school in Calcutta wishes to enroll children born into brothels. At last and with determined persistence, she does find one, and a portal into life beyond opens for some of the children. Their photos, too, are put on exhibit, available also now in book format.

Some are saved, some are pulled back into the dark. The individual stories of these tiny photographers are stories that must be witnessed, heard and seen, so that they know: everyone matters. Even in the darkest shadows, we refuse to be blind to them any longer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good documentary about how art can help social emancipation, 16 Feb 2013
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An interesting documentary on the condition of children in the red district of Calcutta. Briski spent a lot of time there and obviously identifies with her subject, though unfortunately she is not always successful in achieving her aim of giving children of prostitutes a life out of the condition they are born in. Given the overall situation in Calcutta, these children are not at the bottom, and are generally well fed, but lack opportunities for education and personal achievement.

Briski has been accused of exploiting the children as objects in her documentary, but I think this is unfair: there is nothing wrong in filming your work if this raises awareness and helps with fund raising, which this film certainly did.

At the end of the film, one is left with mixed feelings: on the one hand, a few kids make it and through their photos achieve emancipation from the slums. On the other hand, many don't, either because their parents prevent them or because they can't make the fateful decision to leave home.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 21 Oct 2010
A devastating portrait of impoverished Calcutta children who are born into the sex trades, yet the film is also an inspiring document about human possibilities and the need to strive despite impossible odds.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars .....boring, 25 Jan 2010
By 
J. D. T. Noot (Thew Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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The documentary was made by a typical "I want to change the world but haven't got a clue how to do it" volunteer. I expected in depth research but all I saw was some kids taking pictures that by coincidence also live in the brothels. They don't show a lot of information on the brothels either. It's a "feel good" documentary but doesn't offer a lot of context.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Attention Seeker, 10 Dec 2012
Born into Brothels is an exploitative piece of badly-produced and ill-thought self aggrandizement. People who talk about the cinematography must be on some serious good drugs.

Most of the filming is done with cheap lenses and camcorders. It's edited without an idea for structure, only with an idea to make Indians look as dependent as ever on white superiority to get through life.

Watch it, research its aftermath and think for yourself rather than be mesmerized by the philanthropy.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the story continues on DVD, 28 Mar 2007
By 
H S Marks (Manchester UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Born Into Brothels [DVD] [2005] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
The follow-up material on this DVD does bring a happy ending.

WARNING: some DVD players cannot access to essential subtitles.

The releasing company locked down trailers at the disc head which

cuts out other features and controls but there is no menu option for

subtitles. Your player will either display them or not.

There is an AUSTRALIAN REGION 4 issue that I presume does not have

that problem.
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Born Into Brothels [DVD] [2005] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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