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Hot Docs 2014 Review: Ukraine is Not a Brothel

It’s not at all surprisingly but certainly a bit tragic when some of the members of the Ukrainian activist group FEMEN question the purity and truth behind their collective goal.

The topless (and decidedly young and beautiful) protestors have made news for years now, often getting as much if not more attention for their physical assets than their social issues. With an intimate eye, director Kitty Green joins these women inside their homes and on their protests to unearth meaning, if any, giving them a narrative platform that is more than chanting and being dragged off by cops.

There is that, though. We watch them in action, hear a chilling recount of one that went terribly wrong, and gear up for bigger protests to come.

Green challenges them, eventually. First we spend time tenderly learning about the personal lives of these apparent crusaders; some have been disowned by family, while others are cheered on, maybe naively.

It’s not until late that we finally hit the climax: the case of Victor. He is the patriarchal head of this feminist movement, full of contradictions and only a shy tongue when the camera is pointed directly at him.

He in fact opens the film, his face hidden behind a hideous mask (by design, perhaps). It eventually comes off, and Victor offers illuminating thoughts while the women too finally open up. It’s revelatory, and brings this captivating doc to a jarring conclusion.

It would all be hysterical if it weren’t so cold and melancholic.

[star v=4]

Anthony Marcusa

A pop-culture consumer, Anthony seeks out what is important in entertainment and mocks what is not. Inspired by history, Anthony writes with the hope that someone, somewhere, might be affected.