Film on Calcutta’s Red Light Kids shortlisted for Oscar

Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman’s Born Into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids, a documentary about children of prostitutes in Kolkata who try to start a new life, has been shortlisted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as one of the contenders for the best documentary feature Oscar, according to

A portrait of several children who live in the red light district of Kolkata where their mothers are prostitutes, Born Into Brothels, celebrates New York-based photojournalist Briski’s efforts to change the lives of the youngsters. She gave them cameras and taught them how to take pictures, leading them to look at their world with new and hopeful eyes.

Earlier in the year, the 85-minute long film distributed in North America by THINKFILM was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival where it garnered top reviews. Winner of the Audience Award at Sundance, it has been shown at over 20 other film festival winning prizes at most of them. The final five nominees for best documentary will be announced along with the nominees in 24 other categories January 25, and the 77th Annual Academy Awards will be handed out February 27.

3 thoughts on “Film on Calcutta’s Red Light Kids shortlisted for Oscar

  1. Whooops! Sorry SepiaMutiny folks – I left my comment at the end of the WRONG article. Here they are again:

    This was an extraordinary film. I saw it at Sundance in January. After the viewing, I felt compelled to go up to the director and thank her for her honest, empathetic look at a film without the typical “western” biases that afflict projects made by white women looking at brown women. I really hope it gets some more recognition. Also, check out the photos captured by the children – All proceeds of the photo sales go towards the education of the children!

  2. Sajit…Many thanks for this post!

    (Also.. thanks to Mimosa for the link. The photos captured by the kids spoke a thousand words.)

  3. Even thought it was a decent documentary…it had a good-at-it alone attitude which was disturbing.

    If you go to her site, she is charging over 10K for a limited portfolio for benefiting the kids.

    I do question how much the kids benefited from working with Zana. It is a difficult situation but I am not sure if she is looking at it from a holistic perspective or is it more of a look-how-great-Zana-Aunty-is perspective.

    I suggest that you read this article which has a different perspective: