Photographic memory 

Oscar winning documentary Born Into Brothels screening in Whistler

What: Born Into Brothels – Whistler Film Festival Society’s Reel Alternatives cinema series

Where: Village 8 Cinema

When: Wednesday, May 25, 7 and 9:30 p.m.

Tickets: $9

In movie-land the May long weekend has established itself as the official kick-off for summer blockbuster popcorn-movie mania.

This year is no exception. On Thursday, May 19 the blockbuster of all blockbusters — Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith — descends on Whistler, heralding a coming onslaught of superhero adaptations, rough and tumble buddy flicks and pithy romantic comedies starring whichever lowest common denominatrix happens to be on People Mag’s hot-list that week.

All the shoot-’em-up, bash-’em-up, whoop-it-up Hollywood fare audiences can cram down their fun-seeking summertime throats. Escapism of the guilty-pleasure variety with every ticket.

But the week ahead presents an exception.

When the smoke clears from the long weekend kick-off ka-boom, a remarkable film will have come softly, its pensive theme of escaping from the shackles of poverty a foil to the hedonistic escapism of Hollywood’s most expensive.

That film is acclaimed feature documentary Born Into Brothels, which screens twice on Wednesday evening as the May installment in the Whistler Film Festival Society’s Reel Alternatives monthly cinema series.

Oscar watchers will recognize the film’s title and directorial team Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman from Born Into Brothels Best Documentary win at the 77 th Annual Academy Awards this past February. The award capped off a long list of accolades including the Documentary Audience Award at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, where the film premiered in January 2004.

Briski herself is a subject of Born Into Brothels.

A photojournalist based in New York City, Briski traveled to India in 1998 to live amongst and document the lives of the prostitutes living in the squalor of Calcutta’s red light district.

She and her camera were objects of curiosity for the district’s children and in befriending them Briski was inspired to teach them photography, setting each up with a basic point-and-shoot camera and instilling in them basics of composition, light, and photo editing. It’s at this point the film picks up their stories.

Briski is certainly a key figure, but the film really belongs to the eight under her tutelage. The children range in age from 10 years old to 14-year-old Suchitra, a demure figure living with the knowledge that she is of the age where any day she could be forced to earn her keep by "joining the line." It’s a future spelled out plainly by another of the girls who is simply a few years behind. To avoid recruitment Suchitra rarely leaves the roof of her home.

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