Neither Born Into Brothels codirector set out to make the impeccable Oscar winner they ended up making. Zana Briski, who had gone to India to take photographs of marginalized women, was drawn in by the children of Calcutta’s red-light district. She decided to teach them photography, hoping to engender pride amid what she calls ”an inherently abusive place.” The video footage of the lessons captivated her friend Ross Kauffman, an editor who found filmmaking to be ”a long hard road” with little reward. As a result of this story that demanded to be told, the lives of all involved were changed, and some may even have been saved.
EXTRAS In the commentary, Kauffman speaks of not wanting to ”come across as saviors,” but they do anyway — the year Briski spends getting a passport for her star pupil says it all. A mini-doc of the kids watching the film, revisiting the harsh world they’ve been given the tools to transcend, is deeply moving. Without naïveté, Briski asks, ”Who knew that a camera could be so empowering?”