In Family Portrait In Black And White, middle-aged single mother Olga Nenya decides to brave social stigmas to foster 17 orphans, many of whom are Ukranian-African. As the film opens, one sees third-party interviews with Ukranian skinheads that immediately couch the film in a setting of acial discrimination. Given the film's title, its synopsis, and these opening sequences, one expects the entire film to be about the struggles of foster parenting in a mixed race family -- but this expectation would be wrong.
Nenya and her seventeen foster children live and work on a farm, slightly removed from the mainstay of Ukranian society. Through the use of minor anecdotes, the film asserts time and time again that racism and discrimination are wildly prevalent in Ukraine -- but this narrative is not the primary focus. The film is, in fact, less sociological than it is an intimate look at the psychology of foster family life and the complexities of motherhood both outwardly inflected upon Nenya, and self-inflicted and self-perpetuated.
Directed by Julia Ivanova
21 May, 2012