Born Into Brothels

I’ve been wanting to see Born Into Brothels for awhile now. I must admit that it took me awhile to finally see it because I am sort of afraid of documentaries. For some reason “documentary” makes me think “boring.” I don’t really know why I thought this. I like documentaries on tv – if I had cable, that’s what I would watch all the time.

Anyways, after Born Into Brothels, I can’t wait to watch more documentaries (anyone have any good ones to recommend?).

Born Into Brothels is about a photographer named Zana Briski who chose to live with and get to know some of the women who live and work in the red light district of Calcutta. Briski ended up spending large portions of a number of years in one particular brothel. As she got to know the women of the brothel, she also grew to love the many children who live in the brothel with their mothers and families. The movie documents her relationship with a number of the children who she ends up teaching photography. The result is an amazing, heart-breaking, and miraculously hope-filled portrait of these incredible children. You see their lives through their own eyes, via their own photography. The movie also chronicles Briski’s attempts (with some successes and some failures) to help the children get out of the brothels (she has since begun an organization to continue this work in other areas – check out the site).

This movie is certainly difficult to watch at times. The scores of children who grow up in these brothels have very little hope of leaving. The girls in particular have very little chance of avoiding the same fate of their mothers and eventually joining “the line.” That a place like this exists is disturbing and it is difficult to watch. While it is encouraging and inspiring to watch Briski help these children in amazing ways, it is also easy to despair in realizing that their are so many other children in these brothels, without any real hope.

So here’s what I took away from the film (I actually watched it twice – once with the audio commentary).

Film is an amazing way to bring about awareness of significant issues.

There are people in this world making a difference – doing amazing things. God must be with these people, even if they do not know it. While Briski does not appear to be a Christian, it is hard to miss her incredible love for these children – I think this is God.

My life is easy.

People matter. All of them. And loving people is the work of God, and our only true calling in this world. No matter who the people are or how many people are impacted.

God is working everywhere and will use anyone.

There are plenty other things to think about after watching this movie.

Please rent it. I don’t think you’ll regret it.


4 Responses

  1. Sounds like an interesting film.

    A fascinating documentary (if you have a LOT of time) is Ken Burn’s Jazz. Aaron and I loved it, and we love the music that we discovered through it. As an interesting tie in, many jazz musicians were born in brothels or got their musical starts there.

  2. I LOVE documentaries (must be the “input” in me — more than you ever thought there was to know about something) — I’ve added this to our queue. Some I’ve seen, though none of them deal with significant issues: “Spellbound”, “Ballet Russes”, “Synchronized Swimming: The Pursuit of Excellence” (no kidding, watched this one I TiVo-ed off of PBS tonight; a bit sad what some of these young girls, and one boy, were willing to sacrifice for the sake of “synchro”), & “Mad Hot Ballroom” is on its way (thought I’d try to watch the girly dance ones while Rish’s out). Thanks for the list of take-aways you ended the post with!

  3. Yes, I also liked the take-aways. It brings relevance to me, and I greatly appreciate that.

  4. Here’s a belated suggestion for a documentary about the Sudanese “Lost Boys.” I haven’t seen it, but it looks interesting; I just read about it here:
    (The post prior to this one also recommends a documentary.)

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