Born Into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids

Documentary | Bengali with English subtitles | 85 minutes


Zana Briski spent two years living in Kolkata, India’s appalling red light district. She found many  children of prostitutes in the community, living in abject poverty with no hope for better futures. To enhance their self-esteem, Zana introduces them to photography. Many of the talented children create worthy photographs that are exhibited in several exhibitions. Zana’s next step is to enroll as many of the children in the nearby school. However, Zana encounters resistance from  parents and some students who did attend quickly drop out. But a few do well. Perhaps Zana’s courageous efforts will not be in vain.  

Major Participants:
Zana Briski and the many children of Calcutta prostitutes
Why Stream This Film?
It’s not always easy to motivate these damaged kids to improve their prospects; to give them a shot at better lives. Zana is indomitable and  determined to save as many of these unfortunate souls as she can.  
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 95%
  • Metacritic Score: 78
  • Academy Awards: Winner, Best Feature Documentary
  • National Board of Review: Winner, Best Documentary
  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards: Winner, Best Documentary 
  • Sundance Film Festival: Winner, Best Documentary
  • Seattle International Film Festival: Winner, Best Documentary
Intervention in the lives of India’s most deprived class of kids is the focus of BORN INTO BROTHELS. It’s an engaging documentary about a British photographer who endeavors to help the children of Calcutta prostitutes by teaching them how to use a camera.
Todd McCarthy


BORN INTO BROTHELS tempers its optimism with realism in a way that is both uplifting and heartbreaking. In giving a handful of children the opportunity to regard themselves as artists and to perceive their surroundings as raw material, director Zana Briski snatches a measure of hope from depressing circumstances.
A.O. Scott,

The New York Times

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