Daily News header

Family Portrait In Black And White Movie Review

By     get stories by email

Raising more questions than it answers, but all of them intriguing in any case, Family Portrait In Black And White is a documentary focusing on a highly unusual foster mother in the rural farming village of Sumy in the Ukraine, and her massive brood of 23 orphans, sixteen of them abandoned biracial children. The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe, anyone?

In the course of following these school age children through their daily routines in a primarily home movies format, we learn little about the white orphans. But that the biracial kids are apparently the offspring of African exchange students, and Ukrainian mothers who have rejected them because of a widespread prevailing racist culture. And, in contrast to official attitudes espoused under the Soviet Union, which embraced racial solidarity with African and other Third World nations.

white
Photo: www.rottentomatoes.com

Presiding essentially singlehandedly but with striking self-confidence and control over this quite large number of children is possibly fiftysomething Olga Nenya. Little information is forthcoming about her, in particular Olga's initial passion for this challenge and what her own personal and family life has been all about. But any mother out there who has struggled to raise even two children alone, can attest to Olga's amazing fortitude and patient, abundant love, though at times overbearing possessiveness, warts and all.

What does emerge, is the portrait of a country's racism tragically inflicted on nonwhite inhabitants, and quite blatantly with the post-Soviet emergence of neo-nazi skinhead activity in the Ukraine. Though that profound social change and its link to the new market economy and ensuing poverty and unemployment, along with the concurrent vast epidemic sex trade targeting young women in that region, begs for some exploration as to historical cause and effect.

Where the documentary leads seemingly by chance in a surprising secondary direction, is the uncovering of an ideological conflict running parallel to racial issues. As some light is shed on the sketchy portrait of Olga at hand - who would have come of age under socialism - and at times in contentious contrast to her children.

Namely, her post-Soviet nostalgia for allegiance to the collective, which she may have somehow sought to embody in her aspiration to create this sanctuary for children. And ironically, contending with some of them who have been drawn to the more recent western influenced self-indulgent cult of individualism. So whenever Olga is seen clinging to the independent-minded older children with undue separation anxiety in seeing them go, a deeper yearning for a past that has slipped away historically, makes itself felt palpably as well.

Independent Pictures
Unrated
2 1/2 stars

Trailer of Family Portrait In Black And White:

Prairie Miller is a NY multimedia journalist online, in print and on radio, and on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network's Arts Express. Read more reviews by Prairie Miller. Contact Prairie through NewsBlaze. Read more stories by Prairie Miller.

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Movie Reviews News

Not exactly a feminist western but powerfully evoking the lives of these scarred and thwarted women nevertheless, The Homesman follows the fate of three young wives.
Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, director of a trio of award-winning documentaries, decideding to make a film recognizing the contributions of cultural icons, one born in each year of the Baby Boom.
Movie Reviewer Kam Willaims brings Pump, why is price of gasoline in the US so high? Much of the explanation lies in a corporate conspiracy to deny us access to alternative fuel sources.
Our Movie Reviewer brings you The Equalizer, a riveting, relatively-gruesome adaptation of the popular, 1980s TV-series, directed by Antoine Fuqua.
But what makes the movie worth its while is hearing such soul greats as Booker T., Mavis Staples, David Porter and Charlie Musselwhite wax romantic about the good ole days. We learn that the bands were often integrated at a time the rest of Memphis
Prairie reviews events at NY Film Festival, including a way beyond bratty homicidal child celeb exiting detox and his pyromaniac institutionalized sister.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month



Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site