Ukrainian Filmmaker Debuts A Documentary Tinged With Ukraine’s Ugly Truths

Family Portrait in Black and White” premiered at Sundance Film Festival, Hot Docs, Valladolid, MiradasDoc and Addis Ababa Film Festivals. The documentary dissects the life of a foster mother in Ukraine who is raising 17 orphans single-handedly.

Olga Nenya is a strong believer in communal responsibility over individual freedom. She lives in rural Ukraine, and unlike her neighbors, she  feels no racial prejudice against the 16 biracial orphans she raises.

These orphans were abandoned by their Ukrainian mothers. The children’s fathers are African students who came to Ukraine to study. They eventually return home, deserting the children they’ve fathered. The mothers, influenced by the cultural norms of their society, don’t want the children either.

Olga refuses to allow these children to grow up in institutions and has collected them all under one roof of her home. The film captures three turbulent years that see her brood of foster children grow into rambunctious teenagers.

The film has screened at film festivals all over the world.

Director Julia Ivanova is an accomplished documentary filmmaker whose film “True Love or Marriage Fraud? Price of Heartache” contributed to recent changes to the spousal sponsorship regulations in Canada. She also made “10 Days=Wife: Love Translated,” a look at the international dating industry that follows fifteen Western men on a tour to find wives in Odessa, Ukraine. Currently Julia is working on a documentary “High Five: an Adoption Saga”, a film about a typical couple that adopts five brothers and sisters in Ukraine. It will be released later this year.

“Family Portrait in Black and White” screens at AMC Empire at 234 West 42nd Street, Manhattan on July 13 through July 19.