Born into Brothels
- compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2005 1 Jan
Adventurous moviegoers who catch up with the film
The prostitutes active in the red light district of Sonagchi, Calcutta, are the neighbors of British filmmaker Zana Briski. Briski observes them as they make money off of drug-addicted, alcoholic men in order to support themselves, their prostitute mothers, and their children. The poverty, the bitterness of the women, and the irresponsibility of the damaged men make this corner of India one of the world's most hellish environments.
But Briski is there for a purpose. It's a risky, difficult, and honorable mission, and it reveals a corner of this lost culture that is often overlooked—the children. There, she discovers joy, wonder, and possibility.
As Briski teaches the children photography, their creativity and personality is unleashed. And, in some cases, the pictures may pave the way to a better future. This is all part of a program called Kids with Cameras.
It's easy to talk about Christ's call for service and love, but it is difficult to find such dedication and compassion modeled on the big screen. Briski sets a strong example for the rest of us, investing herself in the hard, sometimes tedious, work of love in an unfriendly neighborhood, offering grace with little hope of reward, ministering to students who may be lost causes indeed. As she finds her way through a labyrinth of obstacles—stubborn and contentious families, confounding legal processes, the naiveté of the children she loves—we come to desperately hope she can save some of these beautiful souls.
Some Christian press filmmakers have caught up with the film in recent weeks.
Steve Lansingh (Film Forum) says, "This is not primarily the story of a Westerner sweeping in and saving the day. This is the story of children, still unbeaten by the harsh conditions of their situation, finding a voice through the camera. As we see their photographs, we see their world through their eyes. We see sadness and squalor, yes, but we also see kites and animals, colors and smiles. These photographs are not intended to elicit our concern nor abate it; they have no agenda. The photos are simply a record of their world, glorious and broken—the only one they know."
Stef Loy (Looking Closer) says, "The pictures reveal a new way to view life, and the lens of a child transmits hope to the viewer—we want a better life for these little kids. In snap shots we see the world through their eyes, and it's a world that breaks our heart for their plight."
J. Robert Parks (Looking Closer) says, "
Mainstream critics are celebrating the movie here.
Josh Hurst (Reveal) says, "This makes two films in recent memory that espouse true Christian service. Like