Screened as part of NZIFF 2012

Family Portrait in Black and White 2011

Directed by Julia Ivanova

Defying local racism, Olga Nenya has fostered 23 homeless children, many of mixed-race heritage. “A rich observational portrait of a woman who wants to save the children from an unjust world – her way.” — Hot Docs

Canada In Italian, Russian and Ukrainian with English subtitles
99 minutes HDCAM

Director, Screenplay, Editor


Boris Ivanov


Julia Ivanova
Stanislav Shakhov


Boris Sichon


Olga Nenya


Sundance, Vancouver, Amsterdam Documentary 2011

“You, me, he, she. We make a happy family!” Olga Nenya and her family of 23 foster children, 17 of whom are of mixed-race heritage, joyfully sing. The kids know little about the biological parents who abandoned them in orphanages. For Olga the reason they did so is simple: in the Ukraine, white supremacists are everywhere: "most grandmothers would be horrified if an unwed daughter brought home a black child”; whereas this redoubtable, loving mama, single-handedly raising her brood in a rural village populated by goats and drunks, thinks these unwanted kids are ‘diamonds’. The Ukraine needs such treasures – and the big-hearted ‘leader’ is determined to give them a nest. Julia Ivanova’s engrossing documentary watches over three years and sees a classic struggle evolve. Well equipped to nurture the weak, Olga is not so adept at nurturing the strong. As children grow into teenagers, her Soviet-era approach to discipline, physical labour and collective responsibility puts her at loggerheads with the brightest of her charges. — SR/BG