Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Last night, I watched Born Into Brothels, a documentary about children of sex workers in India. Photographer Zana Briski originally took on a project to document the lives of the women working in the Red Light District, but found that while the women were reluctant subjects, their children were eager to pose for photos and interact with her. She decides to teach them a class on photography, and, through showcasing their work, she provides them with opportunities to escape the brothel life by attending school and furthering their education. One unusual aspect of the movie is that there are no subtitles: the photographer speaks in English and the kids all speak in their native language (Bengali?), with the assumption that an unseen translator helps them communicate. I thought it was strange that the photographer didn't speak their language, considering that she had lived and worked in India for several years. Part of me wanted to understand what the kids were saying, but part of me assumed that the lack of subtitles was a deliberate technique used by the filmmakers to illustrate the language barrier and the fact that despite it existence, everyone managed to communicate. Either that, or I rented the one copy of the movie with no subtiles. Overall, the movie is very uplifting. It's amazing to see that these kids, who grow up in such dire circumstances, act like kids just like everywhere else: laughing, playing, complaining about chores, and having temper tantrums. The story has a happy ending. Through the efforts of the photographer, the majority of the children followed during the film end up in school and on the road to a better life, leaving viewers with the inspiring message that one person really can make a difference.