The documentary “Family Portrait in Black and White” looks into the life of a determined Ukrainian woman who takes in foster children, mostly of mixed-race backgrounds.
It profiles the extreme racism in a country that is 99.9 percent white. These poor orphans obviously had no choice in who their parents were, but all were abandoned because no one would accept them in Ukrainian society.
“Olga Nenya,” as they call her (meaning “Mother Olga”), is kind of a tough old bird as she rules her roost with an iron hand, but she has nothing but love for these forgotten children numbering in the 20s.
Some are infants. Some are teenagers. Some are rebellious. All are hopeful. Most have been in the foster system for some time, but as one boy puts it, “She eats what we eat, and I love that about her.”
Yes, the conditions in the home may be less than ideal. Officials come around once in awhile to scold Olga for this or that, but she is protective of her children against all-comers. And they are loyal to her.
The most heartbreaking story is that of a young boy who is so angry at his lot in life that he is considered “special needs.” He has been moved to a boarding school for kids with disabilities, even though it’s clear he has none.
Olga visits him regularly. He begs to come home. She is helpless against the system. You can see the frustration and pain growing in his eyes. She will never give up on him.
If you don’t believe angels walk among us, just see this movie and witness how one imperfect woman is doing her awkward best to right a wrong in “Family Portrait in Black and White.”