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.
What about your research habits? Do you watch documentaries? Do you have a favorite you’d like to recommend?