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Family Portrait in Black and White
Julia Ivanova
Producer: Boris Ivanov
85 minutes
English subtitles
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Family Portrait in Black and White

Olga Nenya has 27 children. Four of them, now adults, are her biological children; the other 23 are adopted or foster children. Of those 23, 16 are biracial. Some residents of Sumy, Ukraine, consider Olga a saint, but many believe she is simply crazy. An inheritance from the Soviet era, a stigma persists here against interracial relationships, and against children born as the result of romantic encounters between Ukrainian girls and exchange students from Africa. For more than a decade, Olga has been caring for Black babies left in Ukrainian orphanages and raising them together so that they may support and protect one another.

Interviews with Neo-Nazis in Ukraine reveal the real dangers for a Black person in the streets of Ukraine. These white supremacist youth joke about their evening raids and how police seem to let them do it. Prosecutors are not particularly determined to give strict sentences to racially motivated crimes, and young thugs can get away with probation for beating someone nearly to death.

Olga sends her foster children to stay with host families in France and Italy for summer vacations and over Christmas, where they are cared for by families who have committed to helping disadvantaged Ukrainian youth since the Chernobyl disaster. Olga's kids now speak different languages, and the older girls chat in fluent Italian with each other even while cooking a vat of borscht. But Olga doesn't believe in international adoption and has refused to sign adoption papers from host families that wanted to adopt her kids. "At least when the kids grow up, they'll have a mother to blame for all the failures that will happen in their lives," she says.

Winner of the Best Canadian Feature Film at the prestigious Hot Docs Film Festival, FAMILY PORTRAIT IN BLACK AND WHITE is available for educational purchase on a two-disc special edition that includes two versions of the film, the theatrical and broadcast versions.
Two-disc special edition that includes the 85 min version and the 52 min version.
Pricing & Ordering
Buyer Type Format Sale Type Price
Higher Education Institutions DVD Sale $300.00
K-12, Public Libraries & Select Groups DVD Sale $80.00
Non-Theatrical/Educational DVD Rental $300.00
Semi-Theatrical DVD Rental $350.00
Click a 'Price' to add an item to your Cart. If DSL or LDF rates are not listed, or if you are interested in a public screening, please fill out this form and we will get back to you with availability information.
"Family Portrait is riveting!" - LA Weekly Critics' Pick
"Gets high marks for honesty." - Neil Genzlinger, New York Times
"The film is a feat of unforced and watchful insight." - Chicago Tribune
"The film is riveting, truthful, and profound." - Rosie O'Donnell
“It's a fascinating story, fascinatingly told.” - Christian Science Monitor
"Riveting viewing and recommended." - Tambay Obenson, Indiewire's Shadow and Act
"A powerful and complex documentary… An absorbing film, shot over a lengthy period of time, which refuses to tell you what to think." - New York Magazine
"Riveting viewing." - Ernest Hardy, Village Voice

• Best Canadian Feature Film, Hot Docs Film Festival, 2011
• Nominee for Best Feature Documentary, Genie Awards
• Cultural Diversity Award, Valladolid International Film Festival
• Audience Award, Miradasdoc
• Best Documentary, Addis Documentary Film Festival on Human Rights
• Audience Award, Northwest Filmmakers Film Festival
• Official Selection, Sundance Film Festival, 2011
• IDFA, 2011
• Los Angeles Film Festival
• Mumbai Film Festival
• Hamptons International Film Festival
• Cleveland International Film Festival
• Glasglow International Film Festival
• Thessaloniki Film Festival
• Message to Man Documentary Festival
• Bergen International Film Festival
• Vancouver International Film Festival
• Astra Film Festival
• Sarasota Film Festival
• Bermuda Film Festival
• EBS International Documentary Festival
• Kaohsiung Film Festival
• Watchdocs Human Rights Film Festival
• Montreal International Black Film Festival
• New Hampshire International Film Festival

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