Born into Brothels


Directors Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman chronicle the amazing transformation of several children growing up in Calcutta’s red-light district. Briski, a professional photographer living in and documenting the brothels, is inspired by the children’s curiosity with her camera and gives them photography lessons and cameras of their own, igniting the latent spark of artistic creativity within them. The cameras empower them to document and share their world, and their photographs are a testimony to the power of the indelible creative spirit.

Born into Brothels received a Sundance Institute Documentary Fund grant, was supported by the Documentary Composers Lab, and premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Documentary Audience Award. The film, which highlights the immensely restorative, empowering, and liberating nature of art, went on to win an Academy Award for Documentary Feature in 2005.

Nearly lost in a fire, the film has been digitally restored, and a DCP was created through a collaboration between Sundance Institute, UCLA Film & Television Archive, and the Academy Film Archive branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Stay after the screening for a conversation with filmmakers Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman and subject Avijit Halder.

— Diane Weyermann

Screening Details

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