Movies: The Sins of the Mothers

A courageous documentary shows kids trying to escape Calcutta brothels. Some make it, some don't

Zana Briski is soft-spoken and rather shy of manner. Willowy of frame, stout of spirit and compassionate of heart, she naturally possesses the qualities shared by the best photojournalists. But even by the standards of that difficult craft, the assignment she imposed on herself a few years ago was formidable. She would live in the brothels of Calcutta, India, and record the lives of their inhabitants, particularly the prostitutes' children.

It took Briski months to overcome the suspicions of the hookers and their hangers-on. The kids--bright, cheerful, curious--were easier. She passed out simple point-and-shoot cameras and offered rudimentary instruction in the...

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