Born into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids is a 2004 American documentary film about the children of prostitutes in Sonagachi, Calcutta's red light district. The widely acclaimed film, written and directed by Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman, won a string of accolades including the Academy Award for Documentary Feature in 2004.
The film-makers claim that the lives of children appearing in Born into Brothels have been transformed by money earned through the sale of photos and a book on them. Ross Kauffman, co-director of the documentary, says that the amount earned is $100,000 (about Rs.4.5 million), which will pay for their tuition and for a school in India for children of prostitutes. Briski has started a non-profit organization to continue this kind of work in other countries, named Kids with Cameras . A film is being made on the life story of a high profile trio call girl sisters, Shaveta,Khushboo and Himani, born in one of the brothels of Haryana.
However, Partha Banerjee, who worked on the film as an interpreter, has disputed the claim that the children's lives have been improved. In a February 2005 letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, he says that many of them ended up in worse circumstances than they had been in before their involvement in photography classes. Critics argued that the lives and family circumstances of these children were too complex to be revolutionized by educating one family member in photography, or even by sending them to boarding school. The documentary itself acknowledges that many of those saved from the red light district and put into boarding school ended up leaving the school and returning to their families before long.
In November 2006, Kids with Cameras provided an update on many of the children's conditions, asserting that they had entered high schools or universities in India and the United States, or found employment outside of prostitution.Kids with Cameras continues to work towards improving the lives of children from the Calcutta Red light district with the a plan to build a Hope House(http://www.kids-with-cameras.org/school/)
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