WRITTEN REFLECTIVE ESSAY
Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman’s, ‘Born Into Brothels,’ is an eye-opening, heart wrenching documentary released in December 2004. We are invited into the World of Calcutta’s Red Light District which we sadly know little about. Through the passion and dedication from Briski, a New York photojournalist, we view the disturbing brothel-life of eight children. The documentary was given many accolades, including the 77th annual Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. All documentaries position the audience to view an issue from a certain perspective which validates the statement that, ‘no text is neutral.’ The three key aspects of this documentary include, the filmmakers’ purpose which is to influence the audience’s opinion, the highlights of Briski’s visit and the hopelessness of the children’s situation. Briski had an immediate rapport with the children and was determined to help then receive an education.
Each of the eight children were given a camera to capture the world they live in, revealing their survival in filth with treatment inferior to prostitutes. Puja, Gour, Manik, Shanti, Avijit, Kochi, Tapasi and Suchitra are only eight of many children suffering this cruel life. Briski founded the non-profit organisation, Kids With Cameras, in hope of raising awareness to these unfortunate children. This is a mixed type of documentary which is a combination of interviews, observations and narrations supporting Briski and Kauffman’s argument. The filmmakers use a sequence of camera angles on the children’s images to assert the truth and value in their photography. The photographs display the children’s variety of emotions including desperation, suffering and sadness because of their mistreatment, however, they still show happiness and innocence. Briski’s narration throughout the documentary gives the audience direct insight into her thoughts and feelings, revealing her purpose and devotion to support these children. By dedicating herself to these children we can see that an individual can make a difference to society. She has inspired and challenged the opinions of the audience as we sympathise for her and the children. Unlike a Western society, prostitutes are condemned in India and therefore many of the children do not have a chance at a normal life. This tears at the hearts of the audience and we feel deep compassion for Briski‘s dedication. The techniques that Briski and Kauffman implement are reflected perfectly by Avijit towards the end of the documentary, “This is a good photo. We get a good sense of how these people live, and though there is sadness in it, and though it is hard to face, we must look at it because…It is truth.” The filmmakers’ purpose is to influence the audience into feeling all different emotions and therefore making them feel a connection with the children.
To change the mood the documentary presents, Briski takes the children to the zoo and the beach. This positive imagery reveals the...