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Family Portrait in Black and White

Family Portrait in Black and WhiteA film about mixed-race children in Ukraine.

It seems African students travel far and wide to get an education and whilst the UK may be making it more difficult to study here other European countries appear to be more accommodating.

And when you're thousands of miles from home it may be hard to refuse the temptations of the locals. Many relationships develop this way not just for African students but for anyone who travels to another part of the world.

And when it's over you go back home and like with a holiday you often forget the friendships and relationships you've forged and get back to your 'real' life.

Of course we all know things aren't as clear cut as that and there are thousands of children the world over who at one time or another discover that one of their parents usually their father was a student just passing through.

For hundreds of children in Ukraine that fact is all too real and Family Portrait in Black and White directed by Ukrainian filmmaker Julia Ivanova gives a glimpse into what life can be like for the children left behind.

The story focuses on a Ukrainian family with 20 children. Many are mixed-race. Olga Nenya - which means mother in Ukraine - is their foster parent.

'What difference does it make - black white, yellow?' says Nenya. 'They are just kids.'

But Olga cannot erase the stigma attached to the children's race, or their loneliness in their native country. 'Their parents are Ukrainian girls and students mostly from Africa who come to study,' says filmmaker Julia Ivanova.

According to her, most young Ukrainian mothers abandon their newborns in the hospital because they can't bear the stigma of having a child of mixed-race. 'I've never heard of anyone adopting a black child,' says a Ukrainian woman in the documentary.

Despite the stigma, these children have dreams and aspirations. Some make it to college. 'If I don't study hard, I won't get a good job,' says Kiril, a mixed-race Ukrainian child. 'Who needs you without a degree?'

Ivanova says her film is a plea for people outside Ukraine to help these children.

'At 18, they will leave the house of their foster mother and they will become biracial citizens of a country that doesn't look at them as equal,' she says.

Family Portrait in Black and White, a dark film about racism in Ukraine recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and is expected to be shown in movie theaters and on television around the world, later this year.

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Source: Voice of America

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