Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Born Into Brothels Update

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who briefly volunteered for Kids with Cameras, and she had the pleasure of having lunch with one of the children (who is now a teen) in NYC. She told me that even though all of the kids featured in the film have benefitted from it, the organization is pretty disingenuous.

First of all, the filmmakers apparently never told the children or their families that Ms. Briski was making a documentary. She told them that she was simply filming "home movies" for personal use. Then, only after winning at the Sundance film festival did they bother to get releases signed by the people who appeared in the film, and they never explained to them what they were signing (so they were still clueless about the documentary).

The school they had built for the children was apparently turned over to a Catholic charity to run, and the teen told my friend that none of the children would want to attend such a school.

And lastly, the mother of one of the children in the film was said- in the film- to have been beaten and killed by her pimp. Well, the young teen told my friend that the boy's mother wasn't even a prostitute, much less had a pimp. She and her husband ran a liquor store, and she committed suicide. None of the children could figure out why she lied about that.

It really is disgusting. People should be held accountable for such muck- not made into heroes for it.


Blogger sue's news said...

thats a disgrace to all the people in the flim
why should anyone lie about should a thing the
people in this world are unbeliveable

Please read my blog if you have the time

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just watched this film and remember distinctly the scene you were writing about. first, she did not say the pimp killed her, someone else said it, and she said, "That's what I thought when I heard kitchen accident." Second, the woman was said in the film to have been burned to death in a kitchen accident, why anyone would commit suicide that way, I have no idea. Third, the father was said in the film to sell liquor illegally. The mother had left and did not live there. It was the grandmother who participated in the liquor selling. Having seen this in the film, it can hardly be said to have been a store. It may very well have been that the kids in the brothel would not have wanted to attend the school, I don't know, but the idea that this woman and her organization are disingenuous is easy for someone who did not even seem to have seen the movie, let alone spent time with the kids who seem to love her, if you believe them. Perhaps rather than blogging bad things about her, you could go to Calcutta yourself and spend some time in the brothels with these kids, teaching them and trying to get them into schools.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Holly said...

Anonymous wrote: "the idea that this woman and her organization are disingenuous is easy for someone who did not even seem to have seen the movie, let alone spent time with the kids who seem to love her, if you believe them."

The idea that this woman and her organization is disingenuous comes directly from a boy from the film. He *is* one of the kids "who seem to love her". He *did* see the film, and obviously grew up with the kids (not just "spent time with" them).

2:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Each of these children tugged my heart. The film made me yearn to help. I am disheartened by the criticism of the film as "disingenuous"....good grief...what does one have to do in this world to be appreciated - or at least not scorned and criticized - for creative effort, sincerity and outreach to those in need (children who need education and opportunity....). Each child impressed me, with their words and wisdom for such young ages -- American children do not speak in this way....Avijit especially - through the interpreter granted - expressed produndity unexpected.

8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm somewhat late with this comment in that this post was made over a year ago: however, I feel compelled to respond.

I just viewed the documentary, and became so engrossed in the story and the lives of these remarkable children that I wanted to find an update on their progress. In looking for an update, I found your post.

In all the updates, only one child is said to have ever come to the US: Avijit. At the time of your post, he would have been 18 or 19 and a senior in high school in Salt Lake City. Two of the children have lost contact with the film makers, so we do not know their fate, if they have benefited from the experience or not.

I also remember the scene to which you refer. The film makers did not say the woman was killed by her pimp; an Indian woman discussing the incident made that comment. And, the previous reply is correct: it was the father and grandmother who illegally distributed liquor from their apartment.

To date (September 2008), the foundation established by the film makers (Kids with Cameras) has not built a school. Plans for a home, Hope House, were unveiled in February 2007. The Buntain Foundation, a local ministry that operates over 80 schools, will provide a free education through high school to the children living in the home, once established.

So your friend- if you report her accurately, and if SHE is genuine- is grossly mistaken on two counts, which makes her final accusations regarding the signed releases highly suspect.

Ultimately, it is irresponsible to report mere hearsay, and make no effort to confirm facts before maligning the work and character of an individual.

Kauffman and Briski ARE heroes, who endured extremely squalid and dangerous conditions to bring joy and hope to children in a nearly hopeless situation. Their creative efforts made the children's stories known, and awakened the interest, compassion, and generosity of people from many nations. They have gone on to similarly empower children in the slums of Haiti, Cairo, and Jerusalem.

Whenever I hear folks scorning the hard work and sincere efforts of others, I always think of Theodore Roosevelt's quote that begins: It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly....

8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To what anoymous said at 8:18 pm....I am clapping in my mind for your words. Especially the Teddy Rosevelt quote. I teach middle schoolers and I showed this film to my students (skipping some scenes due to content) and they were enthralled, inspired and moved. We then shot our own rolls of film. This film continues to inspire others- young people - EVERY DAY- years later. So let look at the GOOD that came out of this.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Kiri said...

I dont think you really know what your talking about. you really should watch the movie.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm really dissapointed with you

8:07 AM  
Anonymous bns said...

I also just viewed the film and was quite disappoined when I came across this blog to find an "update," rather it is just a ridiculous criticism without merit. Regardless if the hearsay is true, the hope and joy that the film makers and Briski brought to this group of children over shadows all. I do not think that Briski by any means used any of the children or their families in a malicious matter to propel her career or bring fame to herself. What she accomplished is bringing attention to such matters in hope that others too will be compassionate and help in any way big or small that they can. Your blog is doing nothing positive.

12:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're not being a realist, you're ebing ridiculously unkind about something that is amazing. I agree with the people above me. The film imprinted upon me greatly and it was the children who i counted on for inspiration and wisdom and I am glad that she helped them. It is doing nothing for them to say these things, they will not thank somebody who would say these things and have no sense of backround or knowledge. Just a blind fool running around with a big stick. My favorite part of the film is when the children were playing around in the ocean and on the streets...Why anyone would want to focus on something so negative and ignorant is far beyond me and extends into the border of idiocy.

8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those who are looking for a real update you should go to the kids w/ camera's site. Yes, they have a bias toward the film, but if all you were looking for is an update that is the best spot:

I realize that I am nearly two years late on this discussion, but I, as an anthropologist, would like to make a statement. I agree that her methods of obtaining the consent were unethical, but one must understand that she is not a social scientist and therefore may not have known better. We watched her film in class, and discussed that very subject. As a photographer she did what she did seeing it as the best way of getting her art to the world and of getting people concerned about these children. I agree 100% that, yes, she could have done better in that respect, but she did what she did and we can not change it now.

As for the child that the friend talked to there is no hiding that it was supposed to be Avijit. Also, there are a number of ways to interpret what happened in the conversation between him and the friend, but since we were not there then we do not know exactly what was said and should not make judgments.

2:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just watched the film, and thought it was inspiring for all of them. Through the children's views we see what truths they see because that's what they see. They didn't know that they had a chance to have a future until Zana stepped into their lives and the photography class opened their worlds, and changed them. This is another culture and environment we have to face, there were many problems they have to face. Only time will tell, if the society would accept them or not. But anyway, most of them lived on better lives like continuing their education, and others moved on to work as artist. They needed someone to help them get them out.Their parents and their relatives thought that their lives have ended, while their children have opportunities to continue their education, and pursue what they want to grow up. They eventually did. If you look on other updates on other blogs.

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're really in no place to be making such comments. Regardless if they had mislead these people of their intentions for the film. Their intentions were good. They would have never been able to film them if they had advised them that this was for the purpose of documentary. Having made this doc has had some effect on these children. Avijit now is in the US studying film and he has been known to say that the film has changed his life for the better. He also has said that he feels like he has a voice through this film. I'm glad this women did what she did. We wouldn't be here today talking about this issue.

6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny even commenting on this one. Just read "holly's" profile, the very person throwing stones is in the sex industry.

6:22 AM  

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