Friday, February 6, 2009

Kids With Cameras

Winner of over 30 major film awards including: Academy Award - Best Documentary; National Board of Review; Sundance Film Festival Audience Award; Los Angeles Film Critics Best Documentary; Amnesty International Audience Award; Human Rights Watch; and more ...

Zana Briski had no plan to teach anybody anything when she went to live among the prostitutes of Calcutta's red light district, intent only on documenting the brutality and beauty of women's lives in those squalid rooms and dark passageways. But from the start, the brothen kids were wildly curious about "Zana Auntie's" camera. They followed her as she worked, some so eager to take a picture they snatched the camera right out of her hands.

Born into Brothels is a record of what occurs when Zana sets her own work aside to lead a photography workship for a group of children most people refuse to acknowledge. As they study their world through the camera's lens, the kids discover and test their own voices, empowered to express who they are without shame. And as their teacher helps them bring their photography to a growning audience, they begin to realize their dreams of moving beyond the confining spaces of the red light district into a wider world of possibility.

Zana founded the non-profit organization Kids with Cameras to carry on the legacy of the Calcutta workshop, igniting kids' imaginations through photography and empowering marginalized children to value themselves and their expressions. Kids with Cameras is also the vehicle for continued support of the children's educations through sales of their photographs. To purchase prints or to learn how you can help in other ways, visit the Kids with Cameras website at


Avijit: Avijit looks through his camera with the eye of an artist. A precocious talent for painting, drawing and now photography gives Avijit the means to express what clamors inside of him to be said. "I want to put my thoughts into colors," he says. From early on, his strangely beautiful images of buckets and toilets and household clutter intrigued his fellow classmates and emboldened them to see and photograph their lives candidly.

Gour: Gour is sensitive and thoughtful, the philosopher of the group. He hopes to be able to attend university with the help of Kids with Cameras. Gour is attuned to the suffering of others; he wants to use his photography to both reflect his environment and to change it. "People here live in chaos," he says. "That is why I like photography. I want to put across the behavior of man."

Kochi: When she joined the photo class, Kochi was too timid to look squarely at anyone, much less speak up. She worked quietly and constantly, her face holding the same far-away expression. Kochi soon discoverd that she likes taking pictures. Slowly, she began to ask what she could become "someplace else, with an education." She now lives at a home for girls and is studying hard to find out.

Manik: One of Manik's photographs was published on the front page of the most widely circulated newspaper in India. He could hardly believe his eyes. He sat back hard in his chair like he'd had the wind knowcked out of him. "World Famous!" his sister Shanti said. Manikk says he likes photography even more than flying kites.

Puja: Puja is an only child. She lives with her mother and great-grandmother, and they like to keep her close. She was hesitant, at first, to shoot photographs outside of their room, but the camera helped Puja discover her independent streak. Her best friend Gour rode her on the back of a bicycle while she snapped away. Now she boldly photographs on the street.

Shanti: Shanti envies her brother Manik's freedom. "He gets to run around taking pictures," she says. "But our parents don't let me go anywhere." Photography gives Shanti the mobility she craves. Her pictures are often a blur of motion: a herd of brightly striped sheep trotting down the street; the high, fast clouds in an open sky. Shanti has discovered the video camera, which lets her pictures really move.

Suchitra: Suchitra smiles suddenly, with her whole strong mouth. "When I have a camera in my hnads, I feel happy," she says. "I feel like I am learning something. I can be someone." At the zoo, Suchitra presses her camera's lens through the chain-link fence and waits patiently for her shot. Puja says, "Whatever you give her, she quietly takes it."

Tapasi: When she began taking photographs, Tapasi would shoot a whole roll of film quickly. "When we first got to use the camera, it felt so good," she says. Tapasi soon learned to slow down and compose her shot carefully. She won't allow herself to be intimidated. "You really have to put up with a lot if you want to do something well."

(Video Duration: 2:31)

Full Documentary - Click Here

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