Born Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids won the Academy Award for Best Documentary.
Zana Briski, a photographer, moved into a brothel in Calcutta intending to do a project about the prostitutes. Then she met their children. Zana begins to give the children photography lessons; this documentary is about the those classes, the children's photographs, and how this changed --and didn't change -- the lives of the children. Zana gets pulled into the children's struggle; not only does she try to help them with the photography classes and trips, she also tries to find schools for them so that they have a chance at a future outside the brothel.
What I liked about the DVD: these children will steal your heart! They have so much personality, their photos are amazing, and this documentary gives you a real look into their lives. Also, since time has passed since the documentary was shot, the DVD includes a feature called "Reconnecting: An Update of the Kids 3 Years Later."
What Zana did with these kids is real "empowerment" and "self esteem." She taught them a skill and an art, and through that, they empowered themselves. The photos these kids took are good; and that's why they achieved self esteem. And she was also willing to step in when the kids and their families couldn't do something themselves; mainly, in trying to get these kids into schools and also bringing the photos to the attention of the world.
Zana's project, Kids with Cameras, continues.
A book of the children's photos (same title) is available.
Eight Great Reasons To Make A Documentary, an article by the co-director of the film.
An interview with Briski from BBC World.
To be balanced, here is a different perspective, which is critical of the filmmakers.