Screened as part of NZIFF 2004

Born Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids 2003

Directed by Ross Kauffman, Zana Briski

USA In English
84 minutes 35mm

Directors, Photography


Nancy Baker
Ross Kauffman


John McDowell


Sundance, Sydney 2004


Audience Award (Documentary), Sundance 2004


Photographer Zana Briski set out originally to film the women who work in Calcutta’s red light district. She ended up returning, again and again, to work with the children she met, raised in brothels with little prospect of living or working anywhere else. Venturing where angels fear to tread, she intervenes, offering the children a way out by providing them with cameras and teaching them how to use them. They’re empowered both spiritually and in a practical sense by the remarkable photographs they take: Briski has the connections to have their photos exhibited in New York and sold to raise funds to enable those children whose parents will allow it, to attend boarding school. The film she’s made with co-director Ross Kauffman is a vital part of her project, chronicling transformation in the children without ignoring the challenges still ahead of them.

“Generates genuine emotion… It’s the story of a woman urgently motivated to help on a person-to-person level, with no grander political agenda.” — Todd McCarthy, Variety