Family Portrait In Black And White

Olga Nenya is an extraordinary woman, and that much is obvious once you’re ten minutes into Julia Ivanova’s documentary Family Portrait in Black and White. By the end of the film, you’ll certainly feel the same way, but what else you may think about her is an open question. Nenya’s story is at the heart of this movie, but while she’s clearly doing...read more

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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 bi-racial. She calls them "my chocolates," and is raising them to be patriotic Ukrainians. 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 picking up the black babies left in Ukrainian orphanages and raising them together so that they may support and protect one another. The filmmakers interview Neo-Nazis in Ukraine reveals the real dangers for a dark-skinned individual in the street. 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 in the summers and over Christmas, where they are cared for by charitable 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.

More Clips

Family Portrait In Black and White
Beautiful, fearless and emotional, Family Portrait in Black and White, “gets high marks for honesty” (New York Times). It paints a portrait of “an imp (more…)
Family Portrait in Black and White
Family Portrait in Black and White follows passionate supermom, Olga Nenya during three turbulent years that see her brood of 17 foster children grow (more…)
Feature Trailer
01:38 — Olga Nenya is a single Ukrainian woman raising 20 foster children on her own. Despite the poverty and racism surrounding her, she is determined to rai (more…)
Trailer
01:03 — Trailer for the documentary Family Portrait in Black and White. Olga has 27 children. Four of them, now adults, are her biological children; for the (more…)
LAFF - Q & A
01:50 — Footage from the question and answer session for Family Portrait in Black and White at the 2011 LA Film Festival.

Cast & Details

  • Released: 2011
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Olga Nenya is an extraordinary woman, and that much is obvious once you’re ten minutes into Julia Ivanova’s documentary Family Portrait in Black and White. By the end of the film, you’ll certainly feel the same way, but what else you may think about her is… (more)