Family Portrait in Black and White: a new film about foster homes in Eastern Europe and international adoption

January 9, 2013 in Events, News, Updates by Jacqueline Arias

The complexity of assembled families has rarely been portrayed on film, so we at Interfilm Productions would like to inform you and the members of your meetup group of the New York premier of Family Portrait in Black and White. An official selection of the Sundance Film Festival and winner of Best Canadian Feature Film at the Hot Docs Film Festival, this new film by Julia Ivanova focuses on a group of older orphans in Eastern Europe and their foster mother, Olga.

Despite all the love and care she provides for these children, Olga rejects the idea of international adoption. Therein lies the conflict. Following the lives of these orphans as they spend summer vacation with host families in Western Europe, we see the creation of emotional bonds and the tragedy of denial as Olga and other factors prevent these prospective families from giving a permanent home to the children they have come to love.

More about the film:

In a Ukrainian village, big-hearted and formidable Olga Nenya single-handedly raises 23 foster children. Sixteen of these children are the biracial offspring of visiting African students and Ukrainian women, who, living in a country of blue-eyed blondes plagued by endemic racism, often see no choice but to abandon their babies. Family Portrait in Black and White depicts the rhythms of Olga’s hectic household, rife with rambunctious children and …goats.

As diverse dramas unfold among the brood—a high-schooler struggles to transcend his plight through education, a boy longs to reunite with his Ugandan father, a child is courted for Italian adoption—Olga reveals herself to be loving and protective, but also narrow-minded and controlling. A product of communist ideology, she favors collective duty over individual freedom. It’s this philosophy that gives the orphans the rich sense of belonging they ache for, as well as cause for rebellion and distrust.

About the director:

Julia Ivanova, a Canadian documentary film director and editor, grew up in Moscow and was trained at the Russian Film Institute (VGIK). After immigrating to Canada in 1995, Julia and her brother Boris Ivanov self-produced their first documentary “From Russia, For Love” which has been televised in 26 countries. In the decade that followed Julia felt a deep commitment to making films that break individual and societal perceptions. She has directed a number of intimate films on the topics of minorities, orphanhood and the search for love. Here films have been broadcast on PBS, Discovery, and various TV channels in Canada, Asia and Europe. Other titles include “Fatherhood Dreams” (2007) – a film about gay fathers and their children and “10 Days=Wife: Love Translated” (2010), a journey into the world of Easter European Dating Tours.

Family Portrait in Black and White
2011, 85 minutes, unrated
In Russian, Italian and Ukrainian with English subtitles