The Power of Film
Living in a society where media permeates every realm of our lives, one can see the importance of film in the modern world. Often times, we only see films as source of entertainment, or an escape from reality. But sometimes, films can tell a story of reality in a way that makes you open your eyes to a world unbeknownst to you prior watching the film. A film can disseminate information faster and broader, thus, a wider audience is able to be educated about certain issues and events through film. Looking at three films, Born into Brothels (2004), Hotel Rwanda, and Gandhi, people are able to reflect upon the theme of human rights and human dignity in a different way. All three films are true in a sense because they are retelling a story that once happened. Through these films, one can see why FilmAid chooses to work in this media to help thousands in third-world countries where it seems a bit implausible to reach people through film. However, seeing the FilmAid PVP short films, The Choice, Growing Health…Growing Up!, and Past Midnight, one can see how the power of film and story telling helps educate them about their own problems they are facing and a way to express their creativity. By comparing the films and the PVP films, the themes coincide. Born into Brothels is a documentary by Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski following the journey of Zana Briski, a photojournalist, and Avijit, Gour, Kochi, Puja, Shanti, Suchitra, and Tapasi, a group of children from Calcutta’s red-light district. Briski had no intentions of teaching when she went to live among the prostitutes to document the women’s lives, but the children’s intrigue of the camera led her to set up a photography workshop for the group of children that society refuses to acknowledge and be associated with because of where they come from. Through the camera lens, the children study their world and discover their own voice, capturing glimpses of a crowded, colorful world that outsiders are unaware of in many beautiful and revealing photos. The children are serious about the class and throughout the film, the audience is able to learn about their hopes of a better life. The children begin to dream and hope of a world of possibility for them to move beyond the brothels, igniting their imaginations and empowering them to value themselves and their creativity. Briski brings their photography to an international audience, “who might otherwise remain comfortably ignorant” and garners interest for the little world of Calcutta’s red light district, a world that the children only know (Scott). The film teaches the resiliency of childhood and the restorative power of art, and how beauty can be found in the most unexpected and hopeless places. The film also tells Briski’s efforts to help the children escape the poverty and futures of becoming a sex worker, but also shows the limitations of a single person. The challenges she faces are from the disorganized, chaotic government system and bureaucracy and the resistance of some parents. There is optimism and realism (Scott). “it takes an almost naïve delight in the pluck and intelligence that blossom in middle childhood, while exposing the cruelty of social arrangements that allow those qualities to be squandered. No film can dispel that cruelty, but in giving a handful of children the opportunity to regard themselves as artists and to perceive their surroundings as raw material, Ms. Briski snatches a measure of hope from depressing circumstances. (Scott).
The film is a heartwarming story for people that fail to realize that many times the victims of unfortunate circumstances are the children. However, there is much criticism of the failure of the film’s mention that there are actually resources that do help the sex workers and their family to live a better life. Briski even mentions that they are “doomed” in their home environment. However, the Sonagachi community have done many things to empower...
Cited: Michel, Frann. ""Born into Brothels" Controversy." Solidarity. July-Aug. 2005. Web. 21 Feb. 2012. .
Scott, A.O. "Nurturing the Talents of Children in Calcutta." The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 8 Dec. 2004. Web. 20 Feb. 2012. .
Sirohi, Seema. "Zana 's Shutters." Outlookindia.com. 14 Mar. 2005. Web. 22 Feb. 2012. .
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