Born Into Brothels | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Born Into Brothels

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Photographer Zana Briski traveled to Calcutta in 1997 to shoot the red-light district and befriended several children of prostitutes; on her next trip she gave them point-and-shoot cameras and instructed them in basic photography. As documented in this 2004 film by Briski and Ross Kauffman, the children brought back no shattering shots of sexual servitude, but like much children's art, their images were fresh and sometimes startling. To some extent the story arc has been willed into being, as Briski organizes shows of the children's photography in New York and Calcutta and embarks on a strenuous campaign to get them into decent schools so they won't be sucked into life "on the line." But the real drama lies in watching the children's artistic education sharpen their sense of self, change the way they observe the world, and bring some order to their painfully squalid home lives. In English and subtitled Bengali. 85 min. Reviewed this week in Section 1. Kauffman will appear at the 7:20 and 9:30 screenings on Friday; call ahead for ticket availability. Landmark's Century Center.

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