Lastly, Born into Brothels presents a lot of information in its first four minutes. It opens with moths beating against a light bulb and proceeds, with a throbbing score, to move between images of crowded streets, a child's face, men counting money, and prostitutes soliciting customers. After the title scene, we see rodents, disturbing excerpts of an interview with a child, and black and white images of prostitutes with clients.
The filmmaker then introduces herself with the voiceover and words, "It's almost impossible to photograph in the red light district."
How does this introduction predispose the viewer to interpret the rest of the film? How does it position the filmmaker in regards to the story? Did she gain your trust as a voice of authority in the first 20 minutes?
Maureen first of all thank you for your post it was very interesting and fun to read!
In the first 4 minutes she presents an atmosphere of despair. Who knows why she choose the light bulb for the first scene maybe she felt she was the only light those kids had… The first minute and15 seconds everything is slow the music and the pace. We see close ups of the kids faces and we see the surroundings, or what she saw at least. My answer is yes after the first minute you know how she feels about this, you don't know anything about the documentary but she is already setting up a very sad environment. She is giving the audience her vision as a VISITOR as an outsider. I am sure she had good intentions that is not in doubt here and I know how you said Maureen that is very easy to criticize her but I do think that represent everything like someone from outside. "I knew I couldn't do it as a visitor I wanted to stay with them and live with them and understand their live" What she really wanted was to impose her settings of right or wrongs according to the west. As the article you posted (thank you for that also, very interesting) there are a lot of things going on but she decided to present a part of the truth totally distorted by our own believes like Pooja was saying yesterday. What we have in our head is the model of education or labor. Why she didn't put in context this information or give voice to other people? We just see through her eyes.
After this intro of 1.15 the pace is fast and the music changes. After this second set that has more images of the surroundings and less faces the music fades and we have a big close up of a rat. That could had been an scene here in New York no need to be in Kolkata to see that. What was she trying to say? And then she contradicts herself. She doesn't want to be a visitor but the way she presents her documentary so far is setting her as an outsider. Even in New York I think I noticed the rats more when I arrived here now I don't even care it won't be the first think I put in a documentary about New York. Anyways she had an intention and she was frustrated about what she experienced. I wonder why the camera project? Why not just trying to "understand" like she said. She was trying to do something else, she was trying to empower and to change. Like Chris said the documentary suddenly take that path is a documentary about how she struggles to fulfill her dream, this idea of what she thought was the right option for them.
After the rat comes the interview "the man that enter this building are not so good" again in all this time doesn't seem to me she wanted to understand she is telling me her point of view and definitely not earning my trust. Then she starts her statement about how difficult was to photograph here (it didn't seem to me like she had any problem to access) and then my least favorite phrase "I knew I couldn't do it as a visitor I wanted to stay with them and live with them and understand their live" I think this is the problem is very nice of her of wanting to stay with them instead of a five star hotel but she is indeed a visitor and that was the only way of telling this story and she forgot about that or at least gives that impression.