Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB
USA, 2004. Red Light Films, HBO/Cinemax Documentary, Creative Visions, Sundance Institute Documentary Fund, thinkfilm. Screenplay by Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman. Cinematography by Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman. Produced by Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman. Music by John McDowell. Film Editing by Nancy Baker, Ross Kauffman.
Filmmaker Zana Briski originally travels to India to make a documentary about the women in Calcutta’s brothels but finds herself drawn to their charismatic, lovable children instead. Setting them up with cameras, she sends a group of kids around the city to take pictures of the things they observe in their life, hoping to facilitate a better opportunity for their future than what the red light district has to offer.
As the children of what the state has declared criminals, these young people have very few options, the girls forced to eventually ‘join the line’ and the boys to turn to drugs and street life. With the help of someone like Briski, a concerned individual who is neither a medical professional or a social worker, it might be possible to get the children enrolled in schools and possibly on the road to something better.
Watching this happen is a documentary journey both devastating and uplifting, centred around the personalities of these incredibly intuitive and captivating young people and their not too surprising gift for capturing the world around them with their photographs.
Also available from Umbrage Editions is Briski’s compilation book of the photographs themselves.
Academy Award: Best Documentary Feature