Family Portrait in Black and White | Chicago Reader

Family Portrait in Black and White

At first this Canadian-produced documentary suggests a blandly uplifting human-interest story, introducing a Ukrainian woman who raises almost two dozen foster children of various races, but it soon expands to consider a number of tough issues, including pandemic racism in eastern Europe and the challenge of living strictly by one's moral convictions. The foster mother, Olga Nenya, turns out to be something of a fanatic: she refuses to let any of her charges be adopted before they turn 18 (so deep is her distrust of other families) and even disowns one of her foster kids when he enrolls in a liberal arts college rather than a trade school as she demanded. Director-editor Julia Ivanova doesn't reduce Nenya to a tyrant or a misunderstood saint; her movie honors the frustrating complexity of life. In subtitled Ukrainian and Italian.


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