Besides eating too much on this Thanksgiving weekend, I watched DVDs from the library. Using my ten-minute rule, (if after ten minutes, I don’t like the movie, I turn it off to spare me from a two-hour movie I will surely regret wasting my time watching, and beside that it’s free), I passed on three of the six movies.
The best of the movies that made the cut was Born into Brothels, directed by Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski, which won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Documentary.
It features interviews of eight boys and girls, between 10-14 years old, who are the children of prostitutes from the Sonagachi red light district in Calcutta. It seems only a question of time before they too are forced into prostitution.
The documentary highlights the bleakness, the misery, and the unbearable suffering these children face. This is contrasted with flashes of hopefulness as we hear the children laugh and tell stories. One can’t help but be moved by the strength and resilience of these children, and the exceptional manner in which the filmmakers interact with their subjects.
The transformative power of learning
Zana Briksi lived off and on for years in this brothel while researching and filming the movie, getting close to the parents. And, over time, she develops close relationships with the children through photography. She gives them cameras and teaches them how to shoot and develop their own pictures. The film showcases still photos taken by the eight children.
Ultimately, Kaufman and Briski arrange for these children to go to high-quality boarding schools, so they can have an opportunity to avoid lives in brothels. The two directors obtain additional funding for the children’s schooling through sales of prints of their pictures.
I was moved by how:
Meanwhile, back at the Thanksgiving dinner table
While Thanksgiving was traditionally the holiday when we gave thanks for the harvest, it has become a time when we pause to be thankful for our many blessings. The last farmers in my family were my maternal grandparents!
So, for me, Thanksgiving is a time to strengthen what works well, to focus on the positive, and to appreciate the ease of our lives compared to those, in dark corners of the world, whose suffering is beyond imagination. Sonagachi is one of those corners. And it is always worth remembering that out of the darkness light can emerge, and change for the better can take hold.
My family, relationships, movement, nature, flexibility of mind, exploration of alternative perspectives & openness are central to my life.