Tuesday, 9 February 2010
Born Into Brothels
Six years ago I was invited to be on the jury for the Bermuda Film Festival, and was asked to judge the documentary strand. The winner was Born Into Brothels, which had earlier played at Sundance where it picked up the Audience Award, and the following year Zana Briski and Ross Kaufman's film was the very worthy recipient of the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Born Into Brothels is a truly special film, a moving and very emotional portrait a group children living in Calcutta's red light district where their mothers are prostitutes, who were taught photography by Briski. On the back of the film, Briski and Kaufman set up the Kids With Cameras Foundation, initially raising funds by selling photographs taken by the brothel kids. The foundation has since undertaken several other similar projects around the world. The most talented of the initial brothel children was a boy called Avijit. His photographs were outstanding — I have one hanging in my hallway — and he has since moved to New York where he's currently studying film. I have no idea while the BBC choose to feature his story on its website yesterday, but it was heartening to see how well he's done. If you haven't seen Born Into Brothels, you should. And if you feel inclined to help Kids With Cameras, you can find out more details of their work here.