Writers need to explore new topics, expand their areas of interest, research beyond their previous experiences, and entertain new ideas. Watching documentaries on a variety of subjects helps us visit places we cannot travel to on our own and study subjects we never covered in high school or college.
The 2004-2005 documentary, Born into Brothels, has been on my Netflix list for a long time. I finally watched it this week. I didn’t know anything about the film except its setting — the Red Light District of Calcutta. I was afraid it discussed sexual exploitation of children, something I have a hard time reading about or watching in films. It wasn’t about that at all.
Born into Brothels is a film about the resilience and imagination of children, no matter how tough their existence and no matter how hopeless their future. When photographer Zana Briski went to Calcutta to document the lives of prostitutes, she found a network of strong children who wanted better lives. The documentary is about what happened when Briski put a camera in each child’s hands and began to teach these children about the art and the process.
I highly recommend the film. To learn more about the organization that now funds similar projects, visit Kids with Cameras. More at Kids With Cameras Cairo, Jerusalem, Haiti, and Calcutta.
What about your research habits? Do you watch documentaries? Do you have a favorite you’d like to recommend?
Patricia Stoltey says
Sorry to remove a post, but the link appears to be suspect. I’d also recommend not clicking on the commenter’s name as it links to a site that’s not in English. I’m always concerned about exposing anyone to viruses, and have resisted moderating comments before posting. However, if I start getting more suspected spam here, I’ll change the process.
My research is woefully lax, as I haven’t written anything terribly needy of it yet. However, I do fact check often.
My favorite “documentaries” are found on the history channel, Discovery or Animal Planet.
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Jemi Fraser says
I haven’t seen that one as I had those very same preconceptions. I think I’d be able to watch it now. One of the joys of teaching is seeing that resiliency in real life. Kids are amazing. It floors me what they can overcome with a smile.
I’ve never though of watching documentaries to expand my horizons. What an absolutely fantastic and easy thing to do. Netflix here I come.
Kay Theodoratus says
I like to watch documentaries of different countries/environments for background detail in my writing. Usually only watch them in my incubation periods, though.
Brothels is a very thought provoking work on the resiliency of the human spirit.
Elizabeth Spann Craig says
I do like documentaries, although I haven’t watched one for a while. Thanks for recommending this one, Patricia.
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