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Born Into Brothels

This true-life examination just nabbed Best Documentary at the Academy Awards. Based on the sympathetic subject matter, it's easy to see why. The film starts out exploring the red-light district of Calcutta. Instead of focussing on the prostitutes, as intended, the filmmakers find themselves distracted by the impoverished children who are born into this hard-knock life. The children are all given cameras and told to make a photo record of their squalid lives. The film probably covers too many kids and tries to milk too much empathy out of the situation, leaving the would-be "narrative" a tad ragged. Still, the kids themselves are an engaging, frequently revelatory lot, fluctuating between cynical hopelessness and childish joy. 83 minutes