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Cinephil Takes ‘Ukraine Is Not a Brothel’

Venice docu-feature explores contradictions of Ukraine’s topless feminist org

VENICE – “Ukraine Is Not a Brothel,” a docu-feature from Australian Kitty Green which lifts the lid on Ukraine’s seemingly bizarre bare-breast feminist movement, has been acquired for international distribution by Tel Aviv’s Cinephil days before its premiere at Venice.

Emerging from 2008, Ukrainian women’s movement Femen has become a tabloid press sensation, largely thanks to its strategy of staging incidents and supposed provocations, such as parading topless activists.

Its protests run from anywhere from sexual harassment at universities to prostitution and brides-for sale schemes in Ukraine, to the general forces of patriarchy still predominant in the eastern bloc.

For her debut feature, Green spent a year living with five Femen activists in a cramped two-bedroom apartment. She was arrested shooting their protests.

“The truth behind Ukraine’s topless feminist movement has yet to be revealed in any of the thousands of press articles about Femen,” Green said.

She added: “’Ukraine Is Not a Brothel’ is a shocking glimpse into the secret lives of these bold and beautiful women. It is a film that speaks volumes about the brutal strength of patriarchal culture throughout the Eastern bloc.”

“Ukraine Is Not a Brothel,” an early Femen slogan, also explores the “sometimes contradictory forces and motives that powered their movement’s rise to international prominence.”

A documentary sales house, Cinephil co-produced and represented Dror Moreh’s Academy Award nominee, “The Gatekeepers,” which Cinephil co-produced and is handling sales rights on both Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Act of Killing,” executive produced by Werner Herzog and Errol Morris, and “Cathedrals of Culture,” a 3D series exec produced by Wim Wenders.

“Ukraine Is Not a Brothel” plays at Venice out of competition as a special screening.

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