Dripping with confidence and visual flare, Kitty Green’s debut film Ukraine is Not a Brothel is as bold as its subject matter. The film aims to shed a light on FEMEN, a Ukrainian feminist activist organization most famously known for their topless protests. Outraged by the fact that the world at large think of Ukrainian women as nothing more than sexual commodities, FEMEN is determined to do whatever it takes to change this view. This includes routinely clashing with the law and naïvely placing themselves in extremely dangerous situations.
Green gets unprecedented access to many of the women of FEMEN. Through their testimony the cracks and hypocrisy within the organization begins to appear. Whether it is the female body types allowed to join the cause, or the charitable donations from “fans” and sleazy business men, the lines between publicity and their message frequently become blurred. The constant contradiction of the women grows rather infuriating at times. However, it is necessary for unlocking the mystery that resides at the core of both FEMEN and the film.
Though one wishes Green had introduced the central mystery sooner, the film really hits its stride in the second half. Subtle and disarming, and featuring Michael Latham’s vibrant cinematography, Ukraine is Not a Brothel is an exhilarating look at FEMEN’s interpretation of what feminism is. The film effectively ponders if the group is raging against the patriarchal machine or simply raging within the confines of it.
Saturday, April 26, 9:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Monday, April 28, 1: 00 PM, Hart House Theatre
Tuesday, April 29, 12:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox