Tonight the university welcomes Academy Award winner Zana Briski, who will share insights on her documentary, “Born into Brothels.”
The movie, which took the 2004 Best Documentary Award, will be showing in the International House at 4:30 p.m. Briski will follow at 6:30 p.m. at the University Center Ballroom.
“Born into Brothels” is set in the red light district of Calcutta, India, where prostitution is a generally accepted way of life for most women. The film portrays the life of several children whose mothers work in the district as prostitutes. The documentary reflects on the children’s transformation and their ability to deal with their daily reality.
While filming the documentary, along with co-director Ross Kauffman, Briski found the local children were fascinated with cameras. Briski, also a New York-based photographer, gave seven local children cameras and taught them how to take pictures
According to the I-House’s Web site, these cameras gave the childern new eyes, with the ability not only to look at, but also to record the world around them. Mesmerized, they become aware of their own talents and sense of worth for the first time since living in a society which refuses to recognize them.
While filming the feature, Briski helps the children get into better schools and away from the cycle of poverty which surrounds them. One child’s pictures are placed in an exhibition for children’s photography in Amsterdam, Holland. In the meantime, Briski has to deal with opposition from the Indian bureaucracy, which disapproves of her efforts.
Women’s Coordinating Council chair Will Pratt said he anticipates the documentary showing and hopes the discussion will bring light to the important global issue of prostitution.
“Considering that prostitution is worldwide, an examination of the cultural context under which women and children live and the structural violence that forces women into such work is useful in understanding the status of women in other parts of the world and how to possibly improve it,” Pratt said.
As part of the Ready for the World initiative, the Women’s Council, the Center for International Education and the Knoxville News-Sentinel are sponsoring the event, which is free and open to the public.