Adventurous moviegoers who catch up with the film Born into Brothels, which is making its way through various U.S. cities, will probably be amazed, deeply troubled, and ultimately inspired by it.
The prostitutes active in the red light district of Sonagchi, Calcutta, are the neighbors of British filmmakers Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman. Briski and Kauffman observe 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 these filmmakers are 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, they discover 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.
I saw Born into Brothels in Seattle last Saturday, and I'm not surprised to learn that the Cannes Film Festival presented the film with the Audience Award last year. The faces, voices, and stories of the children have stayed alive in my mind since the screening.
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 ...1
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