Ukraine Is Not a Brothel

( Australia / 2013 )
Ukraine's topless feminist sensation, Femen, has stirred up a press frenzy across Europe. Femen bare their breasts to protest the international perception of Ukrainian women as either brides for sale or commodities of sex tourism. With a first-time intimate glimpse into the world's most provocative feminist organization, we see how Femen fight their naked war against patriarchy. However, before they take the world by storm, these bold and beautiful women must first confront the perverse and contradictory forces that power their own "titillating" organisation.
Formats: Digital Copy, DVD
Running Time: 78 min.
Theme: Activism, Gender, Human Rights, Russian Cinema and Culture, Sexuality, Society, Women
Language(s): Russian, Ukrainian
Subtitles: English
Director(s): Kitty Green
Producer(s): Kitty Green, Jonathan auf der see all »
Cinematographer: Michael Latham
Editor(s): Kitty Green
Excluded regions: Canada, Italy
Ukraine Is Not a Brothel


  • Press Kit
  • "Ukraine’s feminist movement is the subject of Kitty Green’s critical, yet sympathetic documentary about Femen, an organization formed in the wake of Ukrainian independence from the Soviet Union that aims to shed light on the hardships faced by Ukrainian women... Femen focuses on sex workers who have been the victims of human trafficking, but their methodology is questionable at best... Femen’s signature act of civil disobedience is the topless protest, which naturally attracts attention, although not necessarily for the intended reasons. An interesting profile of an unconventional feminist group, this is recommended."
    Video Librarian
    K. Fennessy
  • "Green beautifully allows the material (and the characters) to speak for itself..."
    The Hollywood Reporter
    Boyd van Hoeij
  • "A fascinating documentary..."
    Leslie Felperin

Academic Notes

  • Judy Posner - A Conversation with the director
    Not just a pretty face: a conversation with Kitty Green

    *I was lucky to catch Kitty Green in New York via Skype before she makes her way out to California. It focuses on her perception of the way in which her controversial film has been received.

    "Ukraine is not a Brothel" is an unusual and provocative documentary. Like the Femen movement it depicts, the film raises many questions and contradictions that make it an excellent case study for the classroom. It is appropriate for use in a variety of subject areas including gender studies, politics, social sciences and even documentary film itself.
  • The Patriarchy Laid Bare: Ukraine Is Not a Brothel, By Karen Pickering
    "Ukraine Is Not a Brothel (2013) is a documentary that raises many more questions than it answers. It centres on the internationally notorious feminist activist group Femen, known for its topless protests against everything from environmental destruction and human trafficking, to the Belarusian KGB and pornography--and most recently for its open hostility to Islam. Director Kitty Green doesn't shed any light on that last aspect, nor does she intend to; instead, she presents a series of vignettes that glimpse behind the curtain of an operation with highly visible soldiers but a much more complex and opaque leadership."
  • Beyond the Boundaries: Exploring Diversity within Contemporary Feminist Thought, by Nicola Rivers
    "After living with Femen members and filming their activism in order to make her documentary, Green is quoted as saying ‘I realised how this organisation was run. He [Svyatski] was quite horrible with the girls. He would scream at them and call them bitches.’44 Macnab also writes ‘[w]hen the Femen founder finally spoke to Ms Green, he sought to justify his role within the organisation and acknowledged the paradox of being a patriarch” running a feminist protest group. “These girls are weak,” he says in the film."
  • Sex(t)ing Revolution, Femen-izing the Public Square: Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, Nude Protest, and Transnational Feminist Body Politics, by Karina Eileraas
    "A 2013 documentary by Australian filmmaker Kitty Green outs political scientist Victor Svyatski as the “male mastermind” or ideologue behind the organization, raising questions about the possible cooptation of Femen’s goals and methods as well as its sources of funding Ukraine Is Not a Brothel. Although details of Svyatski’s involvement are still sketchy and skeptics suspect that Green’s documentary may be yet another publicity stunt, critics maintain that the revelation destroys the organization’s feminist credibility and forces a complete reexamination of Femen’s politics."

awards & accolades

  • Venice Film Festival - Lina Mangiacapre Award - Special Mention
  • BFI London Film Festival - Grierson Award Nominee (Documentary Competition)
  • Bushwick Film Festival - Best Documentary Feature
  • 4th AACTA - Best Feature Length Documentary Award

Festival participation

  • Venice Film Festival 2013
    World Premiere
  • BFI London Film Festival 2013
  • IDFA 2013
  • True/False Film Festival 2014
  • SXSW 2014
  • Full Frame Film Festival 2014
  • Hot Docs 2014
  • Sydney Film Festival 2014
  • International Festival for Human Rights 2014
  • One World International Documentary Festival 2014
  • One World Romania (Bucharest) 2014
  • Thessaloniki Documentary Festival 2014
  • Full Frame Film Festival 2014
  • Bushwick Film Festival 2014
  • 4th AACTA 2015

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Additional Info

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Distribution Company: Cinephil

Ukraine Is Not a Brothel

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