電影名稱：Born Into Brothels（小小攝影師的異想世界）
導演：Zana Briski、Ross Kauffman
Born Into Brothels is a documentary oriented toward a photographer, Zana Briski, who went to live in Sonagachi, Calcutta’s red light district, to photograph the prostitutes at first and then tried to help nine children living there get rid of dark poverty with teaching them photography. In Sonagachi, people lived in chaos; women earned their living for the family by being prostitutes; children who grew up in such a messy and complicated zone would inherit their parents’ job－fooling around the street, taking drugs or being sex workers. Briski gave children cameras, taught them to take pictures and felt amazed that these small children’s pictures depicted a vivid and true world of their surroundings. She even went further, holding an exhibition to display these pictures and made these children known to the whole world. Not only did Briski teach them to photograph, but also she raised funds for them and sent these children to go to boarding school in the hope of making them be educated and having a promising future. In the end, most of children went back to their home, but few of them really did escape the vicious cycle in Sonagachi and received education. In my opinion, although Zana Briski has an admirable motive, I do not totally agree with this film because it reinforces the original stereotype for India and lacks the respect for private life of people living in Sonagachi .
Honestly to say, I appreciate what Briski did in volunteering to help people in Sonagachi. It is brave for one to turn the sympathy into physical action. After Briski saw the chaotic phenomenon in Sonagachi, she chose to stay with residents and began to teach children photography. She really did it instead of speaking on the shining stage, calling on the public to reach out for people in Sonagachi. Besides, she overcame lots of difficulties to make children have the opportunity to go to school and have possibility to own bright future. Additionally, she made the audiences see no matter what backgrounds children were from, their parent’s love for them were the same. Although children’s mothers were prostitutes and the entire families lived in poverty, these mothers also loved their children and hoped their kids could achieve glamorous life. These mothers were merely exhausted by the present hard condition in life. In terms of love, it does not make any difference between mothers from the red district and mothers from Beverly Hills.
However, there is still room for improvement regarding this documentary. First of all, I wonder whether it is appropriate to categorize Born Into Brothels into documentaries. It is crucial for a documentary to present the truth as real as possible. While in this film, I see it abounds subjective view. It mainly revolved around Zana Briski’s adventure and her noble deeds in Sonagachi. As far as I am concerned, she seemed not to reveal the whole truth objectively. For example, it is far from compelling that these Indian children got along with an American without any misunderstanding in opinions, values and customs which possibly led to quarrels.
Secondly, Born Into Brothels strengthens the bad impression that regular people hold for India. Although most of the people never go to India, they have common stereotype for this kind of developing countries, such as poverty and dirty and so on－all of these images about India have been deeply rooted in people’s mind. It will not surprise audiences in wealthy countries that in India, there is a messy place like Sonagachi. Instead, this documentary barely provides most of people with a clearer picture that India is a country troubled by numerous social problems. Indeed, it shows a vivid life of people living in the red district and it also arises people’s pity. However, after watching this film, people still lead their regular life and still have the same stereotype for India. Even though people are moved by the documentary, little of them are willing to try to improve the living standard in such a far-distanced country. What finally remains in people’s mind is the unchangingly chaotic India. Born Into Brothels is nearly like many other documentaries, which enable people to pay more attention to the target issue but lack the power to spur people to think more and do more.
Lastly, Zana Briski did not get the admission from residents in Sonagachi to be the protagonists in her worldwide-known documentary. As a director of a documentary, he or she must be basically aware that what they plan to record is a real life. They are obliged to take people in their documentary into account because these people’s true lives would be demonstrated publicly to the whole world. Especially for such a case in Born Into Brothels, women made their living by being sex workers. This kind of occupation was far from deserving the respect and the glory. Since habitants did not give Briski consent to put their life on the spotlight, she was supposed to ban this documentary from being shown in cinemas globally. Strangely, Born Into Brothels did not broadcast in the movie theatres in Calcutta. Producers claimed it is for the sake of protecting the private life of these prostitutes and their children. The most confusing was how could these people defense their private right when this documentary was on all over the world and even won many famous awards for Best Documentary Feature. Dwellers in Sonagachi must feel bad because they were like special and weird animals limited in the cage.
Born Into Brothels is a smash success. Many people take it highly, but some people doubt what Zana Briski did. I am absolutely pleased to see people being willing to aid the poor, which emphasizes the kindness in humanity, so I admire Briski’s charitable deed in Sonagachi very much. However, if she wants to make her experience in Sonagachi as a documentary, she ought to be more careful in the way of presenting these people’s lives and care more about the critical elements necessarily involved in a documentary. In this way, she could strongly argue against the opponents and the reliability of Born Into Brothels will be more convincing.