Hot Docs 2014: Ukraine is a Not Brothel (2013)

Posted by Brandy Dean April 3, 2014 0 Comment 5643 views

Right from the outset, Kitty Green’s exploration of Ukraine’s nuveau-feminist group Femen is a paradox. Ukraine is, in fact, the world’s brothel and serves as the center of sex tourism and supplies a steady stream of women to the international sex trade. All that put’s Femen’s rather attention grabbing, topless protests into some context. Sensational as the visuals may be, Femen has a point.

And while Ukraine is Not a Brothel at first appears to be a straightforward explanatory documentary, the story quickly becomes very complicated. The first and obvious issue with Femen’s message is that the “girls” of Femen are all stunningly beautiful and fit. The stickiness of that detail comes down like a hammer when Green speaks with the sole Femen member who is butchy and overweight and she quite astutely notes that’s she’s mostly trotted out as a joke. Turns out a couple of the women are also strippers and – kudos to Green for the careful teasing out of the real bombshell – Femen is masterminded by a man named Victor, the self proclaimed “patriarch of the new feminism.” Then he admits that he maybe came up with the idea of Femen to get laid.

While Ukraine is Not a Brothel is not as simple as it first appears, neither is it as simple as the above synopsis suggests. The women of Femen are pretty level headed about the situation, demonstrating the same practical minded will to survive that created post-Soviet Ukraine in the first place. They assure us they do see the absurdity of a movement against patriarchy founded on patriarchy, but they also archly imply so what? Feminism by any means is still feminsim. Plus, we end on a high note with motivated Inna splitting for France with the intention of forming a Femen splinter group – perhaps an ultimate triumph?

Watch the Ukraine is Not a Brothel Trailer


Screening Times

TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 Sat, Apr 26 9:30 PM
Hart House Theatre Mon, Apr 28 1:00 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 Tue, Apr 29 12:30 PM

For more information and to buy tickets, visit


About Brandy Dean

Social media consultant, blogger for hire, and lover of classic movies and silent films.

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