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From Brothels to Spelling Bees: Five Documentary Films with Unique Vision 
 
by Mieko Lindeman August 05, 2005

Born into Brothels

Set in the red-light district of Calcutta, the film follows several young children of red-light workers whose lives revolve around the brothel life. Much like other children, they play, primp, and fight over toys and with their parents and friends. The curious and eager eye of the camera reveals the underlying darkness of their lives, as young girls admit they will one day follow in their mother’s footsteps as prostitutes. Young children scream obscenities back and forth with a neighbor about chores with disturbing ease contrasted by their earnest return to speaking with the film crew about having a better life with school and no red-light district.

The delicate balance of being thriving, talented youngsters (armed with cameras and assignments from the filmmakers to capture their views on the world) and having their roots and family in a dead-end life drives the film’s slow suspense, as photographer Zana Briski tries to get the children scholarships into boarding schools to “save them”. Even the over-zealous pity of the British production team for this film cannot overpower the complexities of the children’s lives, as they are forced to look at life in a way many do not until much older.

They are torn between conventions, traditions, strong family bonds, and a pattern of living that they openly criticize and cling to as simply home. It is a full-on look at their lives with ample views of family, daily routine and personal views, not to mention a showcasing of their bona fide photography talents.

85 minutes, Rated R

Also try…Rabbit Proof Fence (based on a true story)

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