Tag Archives: born into brothels

Doc Days:Round 1

29 Jun

In case you didn’t know, I’m a fan of the documentary genre.

Whether its propaganda or vivid story telling, there’s something to be said about the unusual appeal of documentaries. Voyeuristic insights to a world unknown to viewers can either bring good or bad feelings. You can enlighten your audience, bring facts to life that had been the secrets of boardrooms, executives, and conspiracy theorists. Then there’s true to life stories of other people-in your backyard or halfway around the world. Their story is laid bare, at the feet of the viewer. There is no agenda, no propaganda, just a person and their life. I enjoy these documentaries the most as they don’t usually illicit the ire of gut-wrenching-call-your-senator-films. They are more passive, no matter how disturbing the subject, And while it may hurts to watch fellow humans go about their day-to-day lives in chaos and pain, there’s an unspoken understanding that you must finish the documentary. Every award-winning documentary has its redemptive ending.

Here are some of the documentaries that I have come across recently. All of them of wonderful to watch and I highly recommend them. They are not in any particular order, just haphazardly thrown into a sort of list for easy reading. Enjoy them on Netflix instant watch!

“The Business of Being Born”

Most convincing argument I’ve seen yet on the natural birthing unit. Unlike a Michael Moore film-you certainly get both sides of the story from experts in each field. From the Doctors of NYU teaching hospitals to (shout out) Boston University School of Public Health’s expert on maternal health to the midwives battling stereotypes, it’s an all-out war for women’s right to choose…how they birth. Sobering statistics flash in the beginning in order to set up the crisis by the numbers. We are the country with the 2nd worst mother and child survival rate, yet spend more than double all the other countries on delivery. That’s right. It’s more expensive to have a baby here, than anywhere else in the world. As the medically trained midwives point out, birthing is something women have been doing since the start of civilization. Why not take it back?

Bonus Doc Points: Freaky medical history. Natural birth is rough. C-section is rough. But, how about being “induced” into a labor so horrific, women lost their minds and had to be strapped onto a bed. For days, until the baby came on its own. There’s a great little bit about how hospitals have used unwitting women and children as ginea pigs for new medications, all in pursuit of the 20 minute delivery. With C-sections at an all time high (well over 40%), it makes you wonder what other procedures and medications have doctors been passing as safe medicine.


“Food, Inc.”

Do you know what’s in your food? That’s probably a good thing, because it’s actually rather sad and unpleasant. Yet another “blame it on the CEO” documentary, but I can feel it’s justified outrage. Food poisoning is at an all time high, with hundreds and thousands of cases ending in hospital visits (and in some cases, death). Farmers are being forced to take on debt just to support their business, so they fall into an indentured servant model of worker. The FDA is allowing genetically modified foods into the market, with little or no testing. Disgusted yet? I haven’t even gotten to CAFOs and the darken caverns that house chickens so unhealthy they collapse from having their breast too enlarged. I’ll have a side of genetically modified potatoes fried in the poly-saturated corn oil, please. And make it Super Sized.

Doc Bonus: It takes you into the farms, through the chicken shit, over the cow dung, and past the meat packing to bring you the gritty truth. Uncensored. Not for the squish nor faint at heart. But necessary for anyone who defends an industry that treats their employees as poorly as their product. In one troubling scene, a big chain name squashes any attempt by its workers to form a union by purposefully hiring illegal immigrants-from their Mexican hometowns- bringing them into the States, then after a period of time, calling Immigration Services to pick up their own employees and their families. Meanwhile, the company is already recruiting and hiring just south of the boarder. Just like a factory.


“Born into Brothels”

Now for the documentary to steal your heart. A photographer on assignment, takes on the daunting task of photographing in India’s poverty-stricken red light district. Soon after her arrival, she notices the brothels and blocks that are the stomping ground of pimps and whores are also the playground for their children. Still stuck in a sort of untouchable limbo, these kids are neglected and largely uneducated with little hope to escape their fate of “joining the line” of prostitutes, pimps, and drug addicts. As heartbreaking as it is to see them plead to the camera themselves, I can’t imagine what the photojournalist must have felt. She becomes an advocate on their part, aggressively campaigning for their acceptance into boarding schools and teaching them how to photography. It is in their photography, the mixture of childish delight fights against the dark seedy backgrounds of their pictures. The group of children in rags flying kites above their homes when their mom is “working.” Taking pictures while running through the slums in  order to escape the death threats of their photo subjects. They may not have noticed during the filming, but these are snapshots into their own lives.

Doc Bonus: The end. Very rarely does a documentary leave you with a sense of closure. You find out what has happened to the kids you’ve come to know, months after the documentary was filmed.


“Maxed Out”

You don’t need to tell me more Americans are in debt than not. I’m aware. I’m one of them. Millions of Americans are in debt without even realizing it. Though this documentary was released well before the current recession, it is far from being a relic. Sure we may not get free t-shirts when we sign up for credit cards, but credit offers still pour in. Back when I was but a wee junior in high school, I got my first credit card offer. Thank goodness, my mom promptly threw it away, but she only postponed the inevitable, my decline into debt. Oh, and it’s not like I’ve never paid off my card. It’s my student loans, as it’s probably yours too. They will be another economic crisis with student loans (the only loan NOT covered by bankruptcy protection), but we’ll just have to wait and see on that one. My story is not unique, as many of the talking heads in the documentary will tell you. There are the sad stories of people ending their lives over their incredibly large loans, and of companies ending the livelihoods of elder individuals who can no longer juggle medical costs, food, and mortgage. There’s also a look to the collection agencies, some of the most hated people in the world view their job as a game of cat and mouse. We have a crisis after all.

Doc Bonus: My favorite commentator, the professor from Harvard Business School obviously knows her stuff. Forget she’s Harvard brass, and just listen. She makes the most sense of the alphabet mess that is the credit card industry. If anything, this documentary is a great teaching tool to avoid the pratfalls of navigating the landmines of credit card companies. Sort of like the tip to not visit hospitals in July (new residents, new interns, newbie doctors!), but way better.


“This Film is not yet Rated”

Finally, a documentary on film! But, don’t get too excited folks! It’s going to be one bumpy ride! Through the suburbs, studios, and MPAA headquarters we go, dashing sex, homosexuality, and the first amendment along the way. The Production code may be long gone, but another more clever form of censorship stands in its place. Jack Valenti’s rating system is biased, horrifically so. While violence against women is okay at the PG-13 level, a passionate love scene is not. A completely bloody “gore-porn” flick (The “Saw” series) will fly with an R rating, and anything other than hetero-kissing (and it depends where!) will land itself in the same category. Only a certain amount of F-bombs can be said, but only as use as an adjective. A reference to the act of love making F-bombs will land you in the R category. And, its okay for men to masturbate in an R-film, female masturbation is strictly NC-17. Try understanding that without yelling “*#^%@&!+” !

Trailer: All the directors talk about their struggles with the totally unbalanced system and just why you must bow to their requests. Otherwise, you will be forbidden to advertise your movie and certain distributors, theaters, and retailers will refuse to carry anything with a NC-17 rating. No wonder most movies suck, people who aren’t filmmakers are editing the pictures.

Upcoming Docs to do: “Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices”,”Tales from the Script”, “Grey Gardens”, “Man on Wire”, “Valentino: The Last Emperor”, “I.O.U.S.A”