Julia Ivanova (filmmaker)

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Julia Ivanova
Documentary Filmmaker Julia Ivanova.jpg

Born (1964-12-13) December 13, 1964 (age 57)
Moscow, Russia
Alma materGerasimov Institute of Cinematography
  • Film Director
  • Film Editor
  • Teacher
Years active2000–present
Known for
  • Family Portrait in Black and White
  • Love Translated
  • Vladimir Ivanov (father)
RelativesBoris Ivanov (brother)
  • Best Canadian Documentary Award at Hot Docs in 2011
  • The Colin Low (filmmaker) Award for Canadian Documentary in 2017
  • Women in Film Artistic Achievement Award in 2019

Julia Ivanova (born 13 December 1964 in Moscow) is a Russian-born, Canadian documentary filmmaker[1] most known for her films Love Translated and Family Portrait in Black and White,[2] the latter of which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011.[3] Ivanova has directed 6 feature-length documentaries and 3 TV documentary films.[2] Her films have screened at festivals including Sundance, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, the Chicago International Film Festival, and the LA Film Festival, amoung others.[4]

Early Life

Born in Moscow in the Soviet Union, Ivanova developed a love of film from her father Vladimir Ivanov, a filmmaker himself and the head of programming at the Moscow Film Festival during Ivanova's youth.[1] She studied film at Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in Moscow.[5] In 1995 she immigrated to Canada with her brother, Boris Ivanov, and settled in Vancouver, British Columbia. For 8 years she worked as a foreign adoption coordinator while directing her first film From Russia, for Love.[6]


Ivanova's work as an adoption coordinator gave her access to post-Cold-War Russia's orphanage system and inspired her first film From Russia, For Love. Shot over 3 years, the film follows the story of older Russian children who are adopted by North American families.[7] Released in 2000, it was widely shown at festivals and acquired for television by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation The Passionate Eye.[6][1]

Love and families have been themes in the majority of Ivanova's work. I Want A Woman, released in 2003, followed immigrant men looking for love, and in 2007 Ivanova released Fatherhood Dreams which followed the struggles of gay men in the adoption system.[6]

In 2010, Ivanova released Love Translated. The 84-minute movie documents 10 men from the United States, Canada, France, and Sweden as they travel to Odessa, Ukraine, on a romantic tour, arranged by an online dating company AnastasiaDate, to look for possible wives. The film recieved critical acclaim, with Variety (magazine) describing the movie as, "Far more entertaining than reality TV's The Bachelor (U.S. TV series), but with its own share of disturbing moments...".[8] Roger Ebert said, "It's [at certain times] excruciating to gauge the degree of one-sided or two-sided exploitation on view".[9] The film earned Ivanova a nomination for the Artistic Merit Award by Women in Film and Television Vancouver[10] and was screened at the Vancouver International Film Festival and the 2011 Little Rock Film Festival.[11][12] On Sept. 28, 2011, it aired on Discovery Fit & Health.[13][14]

Ivanova's most widely known film, Family Portrait in Black and White, was released in 2011. The film profiles Olga Nenya, a Ukrainian woman who has adopted a large family of biracial children, and tries to protect them from the anti-African racism often present in rural Ukrainian society.[15] The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where Ivanova was the only Canadian and the only woman documentary section of 2011, and at Toronto's Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival also won the best Canadian film award .[6] It has been shown on television on PBS in the USA and the Knowledge Network in Canada.[1] Although Family Portrait saw wide release in North America, the film was never shown in Russia or Ukraine, where it was filmed, to protect the family.

Ivanova is a founding member of Interfilm Productions, which she founded with her brother Boris Ivanov,[16] and of InFocus Film School, where she is an instructor of documentary filmmaking and a member of the board of directors.[17]

Awards and Recognition

In 2011, Ivanova won Best Canadian Documentary Award at Hot Docs for Family Portrait in Black and White. The film was also nominated for a Genie Awards for Canadian Screen Award for Best Feature Length Documentary and for the Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema at Sundance.

Ivanova won The Colin Low (filmmaker) Award for Canadian Documentary in 2017 for her film Limit is the Sky.[18] The award, presented at Vancouver's DOXA Documentary Film Festival, is given to the best Canadian Documentaries screened at the festival. The Film also received the Calgary Petroleum History Society's Multimedia Award.[19]

In 2019, the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival chose Ivanova as the subject of their Focus On program, an annual showcase of the work of a significant Canadian filmmaker.[4] The same year Ivanova won the Women in Film Artistic Achievement Award, which recognizes a screen-based media artist who has created an "outstanding recent work or a significant body of work."[20]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Mackie, John (3 October 2011). "Vancouver Filmmaker: Julia Ivanova". Vancouver Sun. Postmedia. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Julia Ivanova". IMDb.
  3. DeFore, John (28 January 2011). "Family Portrait in Black and White: Sundance Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Hot Docs 2019 to Honour Canadian Fimmaker Julia Ivanova in Focus On Program". Hot Docs. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  5. "Julia Ivanova". Northstars: The Canadian Movie Database. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Eisner, Ken (5 October 2011). "Family Portrait in Black and White's Julia Ivanova gets real". The Georgia Straight. Vancouver Free Press. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  7. "From Russia, For Love". Interfilm Education. Interfilm. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  8. Simon, Alissa (2010). "Love Translated", Variety, Oct. 24, 2010
  9. Ebert, Roger (2010). "CIFF 2010: Our capsule reviews", Chicago Sun Times, Oct. 6, 2010
  10. Takeuchi, Craig (2010). "Amazon Falls' star April Telek wins the WIFTV Artistic Merit Award", Georgia Straight, Oct. 14, 2010
  11. Richter, Volkmar (20 October 2010). "Vancouver International Film Festival Picks for Day 13: Tuesday". Vancouver Courier. Retrieved March 1, 2012.
  12. "Love Translated". Archived from the original on 2012-07-14. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
  13. "Discovery Fit & Health Kicks Off September With a New Season of I'm Pregnant and Two All New Specials". Discovery Channel. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  14. Anderson, Kelly (12 May 2012). ""Love Translated" picked up by Discovery Fit & Health". Realscreen. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  15. Neil Genzlinger, "Fostering Mixed-Race Children in Ukraine: ‘Family Portrait in Black and White’. The New York Times, July 12, 2012.
  16. "Interfilm Productions". Interfilm. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  17. "InFocus Film School - Our Team". InFocus Film School. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  18. "DOXA Archives". DOXA Documentary Film Festival. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  19. "Limit is the Sky". National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  20. "Spotlight Awards". Women in Film and Television Vancouver. Retrieved 11 February 2020.