Oscar Spotlight -- Feb. 27, 2005

A weekly feature on This Week.


We spotlight a contender at tonight's Oscars -- a documentary called "Born into Brothels." Its creator, Zana Briski, taught Calcutta's children her photographic craft.

Zana Briski, documentarian: "I did not want to make a depressing documentary about impoverished children. And that's really not the truth of the case. The children are incredibly joyful, beautiful, feisty, funny, witty, and people fall in love with them in the film, as we did.

"Manik, little puppy dog that he is, that was one of the first pictures that he took and he stood on his bed, set his camera up and took this picture. And when I asked him why he took this picture, there are images behind him of the gods, and he said he wanted to be like the gods.

"This photo [is] a beautiful black and white photo, and Puja's looking gorgeous leaning against a car. And that was during one of the first classes. And I gave the class an assignment to pick a partner and photograph a whole roll of film, and I wanted every single photograph to be different, and it had to be a portrait of their partner.

"That was quite a daring photograph for her. That's in the lane right outside her brothel. She had told me so many times she was just scared to walk down the street and actually too scared to leave the brothel because of the attention and the threats.

"Tapashi lives in one of the smallest, poorest, dirtiest rooms with two other siblings and her mother. And yet, she just has this tremendous joy. And she decided to take a photograph in her room, which is tiny, expressing joy, with her arms up. And I think it's just a beautiful, beautiful photograph.

"All the children in the film have found a way out of that circumstance. And they're earning money by selling their artwork, and they're empowered by that. And they, in turn, will affect other people, other children in their community. So it's really a film about the resilience of these children. It shows their transformation through art, it shows their beautiful artwork, and how talented they are, and how wise the children are as well."


The Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

Leno: Well, in Germany, President Bush this week-- You know, he was there, he just got back. Thousands of Germans took to the street to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Let me tell you something. That's when you know you've accomplished something. OK? When Germans think you're invading too much, that's when you know.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:

Stewart: Bush finally got to the real reason for the trip -- give us money for Iraq.

President Bush [on tape]: Now is the time for established democracies to give tangible political, economic and security assistance to the world's newest democracy.

Stewart: It's the Bush version of the Pottery Barn rule -- we broke it, you bought it.